Wondering how you’ll make the most of group work in your online courses? Follow these tips to collaborate with your classmates.
Group work. It’s a term that strikes fear into the hearts of many college students. But it doesn’t have to — even if you’re collaborating online! Here are some tips for making group work a successful experience.
Connect with Your Online Classmates
Before any group project, it’s important to get to know your classmates so you understand their expectations of the course and project as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Use your course’s online platform to connect, whether it’s reviewing student profiles, creating an introduction discussion thread within your group’s meeting space, or reaching out to individual group members via email.
Know the Project Expectations
Know exactly what the goal of the project is, when it’s due, how to submit it, the grading rubric, and opportunities for feedback with your professor.
This information should be available in your course syllabus. If it’s not, connect with your professor to find out where you get this information.
Know Who's Responsible for What
The best groups have a clearly organized structure for utilizing each group member’s talents and meeting objectives. Take the time with your group members to identify how the group will work together and what each individual will be responsible for — and be sure it’s equitable.
Your course platform may have a specific area for collaboration with features that make it easy to connect, plan, and monitor. If not, there are many free cloud-based collaborative services out there, so research what’s available and see what works best for your group’s needs.
Keep Your Classmates' Schedules in Mind
Each of your classmates enrolled in an online program because it offers conveniences. Some may have a job (or more than one), work a shift different from yours, have family commitments, or live in a different time zone. It’s important to have understanding for their individual situations and the time they have to commit to coursework.
Good, clear communication will make your group project successful. Be sure the group knows all the methods for communication, deadlines, feedback opportunities, how to ask questions, and any other key information. And don’t forget — good netiquette matters. Keep your communication positive and solution-based.
Keep Your Commitments
When you commit to the group that you will be responsible for a task and meet a deadline, make sure you get it done on time, or even early if possible. That way people will have confidence you won’t be that one student who misses the deadline and leaves them scrambling to get the work done.
Group Work = Teamwork
Working with a team is important. Employers list it as one of their top in-demand workplace skills. Working with fellow students on a designated project helps develop the teamwork skills employers want — interpersonal communication, social intelligence, collaboration, and initiative.
Working well with a group signals you’ll be a good team player on the job. Look at it as an opportunity to boost your desirable skills for today’s highly connected workforce.
Explore Our Online Programs
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The original version of this blog was published in July 2014. It has been updated.