Group projects are challenging, let alone online projects. Yet, they are part of nearly all courses. The thing is that group projects equip students with the necessary skills for a professional world like nothing else. They teach how to solve problems, interact with others, and be creative. Therefore, group projects help to maintain high academic standards.
Distance learning creates a new environment for collaboration that requires certain adjustments from students. Communication, time management, and a clear vision of tasks and responsibilities are crucial for fruitful group work. To make sure that your project turns out as planned, follow our simple tips.
1. Set Rules
Group projects usually entail a lot of work, including research, preparation of materials, and presentation. Therefore, they require equal participation of all members. However, some people may not take their responsibilities seriously. They fail to observe deadlines or even leave messages concerning the project without response. So, how to ensure fair and balanced participation of all members?
Set formal rules as the first step of your collaboration. All group members should discuss the way they want to work together and agree on certain responsibilities. For example:
- take a particular role and fulfill the responsibilities that it entails
- meet expectations for participation and task requirements
- be open to communication
- observe deadlines
These are only some ground rules you should begin with. Continue reading the article to find additional tips on how to observe each rule.
2. Coordinate Time
Group projects require thorough time management. You need to determine milestones and due dates. Break the task into several smaller parts and assign deadlines to each. In some cases, your instructor may do it for you. Yet, time management is often up to students. Therefore, you should take care of milestones and schedules to make sure your group will complete the task in time.
Be ready for possible issues. As group members do not get identical tasks, their time commitments will differ as well. Some people may fail to complete the delegated tasks as initially planned. In such cases, the team should find solutions. For example, if you do not have enough time to manage writing, you can always get help from a writer service by DoMyEssay. Do not forget to review assignments in progress and adjust time frames according to your group needs.
3. Understand Task Requirements
As obvious as it might sound, you need to make sure that you understand the task before starting to work on it. Projects are usually complex, which means that the list of requirements will be long. Make sure that you know the due date of your project and the format of its presentation. You should also take care of the tools that are necessary to complete the task.
Usually, teachers provide detailed rubrics with the requirements for the content and format of the assigned project. Yet, if it is not your case, make sure you clarify these points with your instructor. It will help you to avoid misunderstandings or revisions in the future. If you can contact your teacher to get early feedback on a draft of your project, use this possibility.
4. Assign Roles and Responsibilities
Assign responsibilities as soon as you understand the task. It will allow you to see a clear picture of your project. Consider creating a group board where each group member will see his or her tasks and deadlines. You can use platforms like Trello, Workzone, and Teamwork.
Any project needs a leader, organizer, editor, timekeeper, librarian, researcher, secretary, and presenter. These are the eight basic roles, but it does not mean that your team should necessarily have the same number of people in it. One person can take up several responsibilities as well as one role can be divided among several members of a group. For example, a leader can also be a timekeeper of your project, or you may need several presenters. Note that the essential thing in delegating roles is to consider the skills and talents of each member.
5. Communication Is Key
Online group projects seem challenging in the first place because of possible communication issues. Try to organize several meetings to make sure that all members of the group are on the same page. The meeting schedule should be convenient for all team members. You can use Skype, Zoom, or Meet for video conferences. It will help your group to get updates on progress and create an environment for shared decision making. Aside from discussing project-related issues, get to know each other as well. You will find out more about the strengths and talents of your colleagues, which is likely to empower teamwork.
The task of a leader is to keep in touch with each member of the group and follow up on the tasks, making sure that everything goes as planned. Additionally, you should also communicate with your teacher. Early feedback and guidance will help you to improve your work. If you establish productive communication, you will avoid misunderstandings that may jeopardize the final result.
Online group projects become easy if you organize your work around effective communication and participation. This way, all members of the group will be active and dedicated from the start.