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How to Survive Group Work in an Online Program

A viewer asked an excellent question awhile ago, and that was: what are tips on working with a group in an online program? I thought, great question, and GREAT BLOG TOPIC! Working in a group online seems like an impossible feat to many, but it is actually very doable. I have decided to give a few tips to help all of you when you are assigned that dreaded group project in your online program!

#1: Familiarize yourself with people’s work styles. Now, you’re wondering how can this be done? It’s actually quite simple. You will have weekly discussion posts. Each week, be sure to familiarize yourself with your classmates' posts as it provides insight into their work styles. Do they turn everything in early, right on time, or late? Are the posts extremely well-written with citations and quotes galore, or are they short, with grammatical errors and incorrect APA style? This insight will help you figure out how to work with your group mates. Remember, people are who they are, all we can do if create plans to navigate their work styles.

#2: Review the assignment carefully! As soon as you have access to the class, begin reviewing the assignments. Check to see what the assignment itself requires and what is on the assignment rubric. Use this information to jump right into the assignment, and create a game plan for completing it. If you understand all of the components, you will have an easier time distributing work among your classmates.

#3: Communication methods. Determine what is everyone's best means of communication so you know how to contact people. Some people refuse to check their school email, while others only use their school email. Some people won’t mind if you call them, while others will rather meet up with you (if possible). You need to know how to contact people who are in your group.

#4: Be prompt. DON’T wait until the last minute to start working--you don't want any last minute hiccups! If you need to ask someone a question or for feedback, waiting until the day the assignment is due is usually never effective. Remember, people are in online programs because they have busy lives, they have schedules, families, jobs, and other responsibilities, so it’s important to take this into consideration.

#5: Designate someone as the starter and finisher. Someone has to start setting up things that you will need to work—perhaps it’s a wiki space or a webpage or prezi—whatever it is, someone needs to create it and set the structure for it. Finally, this was always my role as I am a last minute kind of gal, someone needs to be the finisher. I always reviewed the project after all parts were submitted to make sure there were no glaring errors and that everything was cohesive. You want your assignment to represent a unified front—not four different assignments you tried to submit as one.

Group work in online programs is inevitable, so you have to tackle them as best you can.

Hopefully these five tips will keep you motivated!  Don't forget, you can always watch the VIDEO for this blog or CONTACT me if you are interested in more tips!

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