How to Work in Groups in Your Online Classes

Published on May 25, 2016 by arothstein


online study groupWorking in groups can pose challenges even when you’re able to work with your peers face to face, but working in groups online can pose unique challenges. Here are some tips for successful group work in the online classroom.

1. Create an environment of open communication: Because of the nature of online courses, most of the communication you have with your groupmates will be in the form of text – emails, forum messages, and the like. Text communication lacks much of the nuance of face-to-face communication, and can often come across as more abrupt than voice communication. To make up for these drawbacks, set a code of communication with your groupmates. Make constructive rules that will help keep everyone on the same page and working collaboratively, such as:
• All questions are good questions
• Be kind, and assume that others intent to be kind
• Group members who understand difficult material will help explain the material to others
And whatever else is applicable to your unique group situation.
2. Create a Plan: From the very beginning, create a gameplan with your teammates that will help the group work flow smoothly. Break down larger tasks into smaller ones, and assign group work based on these smaller chunks. This will make the work seem easier, and make it easier to keep track of progress. You can use a collaborative tool like Trello to keep track of progress as a group.
3. Build a Schedule that Works for Everyone: Remember that people might be living in different time zones, or have different life demands that mean they may do schoolwork at unusual hours. In order to keep everyone working collaboratively, keep these differences of schedules in mind. When planning a group meeting, for example, make sure everyone knows what time the meeting is according to their own time zone, so you avoid mix-ups.
4. Utilize Collaborative Tools: There are lots of free tools available on the internet that can help facilitate group work. In addition to the aforementioned Trello, your group might also benefit from having virtual meetings using Google Hangouts, collaborating on a Google Doc that everyone can edit and add to, or starting a group Dropbox folder to which people can add their work-in-progress.
5. Be in Conversation with Your Instructor: Always remember that your instructor is there to be a resource. It’s fine to approach your instructor with questions or clarifications that will help your group remain productive. If you have one member of your group that is having difficulty completing their work, this is an issue that your instructor can help you with addressing, rather than relying on direct confrontation within the group.

If you’re interested in starting an online degree program, consider Broadview University as your future school. BVU offers a wide selection of career-focused degree programs that can be completed online , from Criminal Justice to Business Administration. If you’re interested in learning more, request information today.

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