How Do You Do Group Projects Online?

Online colleges work hard to provide students with a college experience that prepares them for real-world careers. In the real world, individuals must know how to work collaboratively in the workplace. To this end, many instructors who lead online classes will require their students to complete group projects. But how are you supposed to work on a group project if the class is conducted via the Internet? How do online students come together to complete these group projects? That’s a good question, and strategies for making group projects work will differ from school to school.

Many schools allow students to access online tools that will aid in group projects. According to Michigan State University’s Virtual University Design and Technology, tools that help facilitate online group projects include: asynchronous discussion tools for group communication; file-sharing capabilities that allow students to share and revise documents; and chat tools for discussion in real-time. These tools work best for students who do not plan to meet in person.

As with all group projects, one or two students take on a leadership role and help divvy out equal parts of work that must be done, communicating to their other group members via e-mail or group discussion board. File sharing will allow a student to make corrections or changes to another student’s work. Chat can get the whole group talking at once, when need be. The group sets deadlines for certain components of a group project and each member is responsible for contributing their part to the whole project.

However, many online classes are offered only from a specific campus, which increases the likelihood that the students attending the online class are in close proximity to each other. If this is the case, these online students can actually meet up at a central location and discuss the group project in person.

So what happens if a student in your group doesn’t want to pull his or her weight and does not respond to chat requests, e-mails or discussion board conversations? As with a traditional course, you must take your concerns to your instructor or professor and let them address the problem appropriately. After all, you don’t want one or more lazy group members to hamper the project’s progress or cause the group to receive a low grade.

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