Online group projects and presentations provide countless opportunities for deeper learning, yet the nature of online learning also presents unique challenges when working with other students. Keep the following tips on how to organize online group projects in mind for a more fulfilling and stress-free group work experience during your online course.
Communication is key for a successful online group project experience. Trade email addresses, instant messaging screen names and other contact details as soon as you are assigned to a group. If you are going to be unavailable for a period of time, send a quick email or make a post in the class discussion forum. There is nothing worse than facing an impending deadline and not knowing where you team member is or how much work he or she has completed.
Don't be afraid to take the lead. Although online group projects and presentations are a collaborative effort, someone needs to take the lead. Don't be shy. Send a message to your teammates to get the conversation started.
Don't procrastinate. Although this is a top tip for online learning in general, it is especially vital when working on an online projects or presentations with a group. When it's more than your grade at stake and you must coordinate your efforts with others, you cannot wait until the last minute to complete the work.
Set intermediate deadlines. Even if the course doesn't require you to complete portions of the assignment ahead of the final deadline, setting intermediate deadlines will help you stay on track and allow everyone a chance to provide feedback on the final project. Additional deadlines may also be necessary when you divide up work and one piece must build on another. It isn't fair to the other group members if one person gets three weeks to work on the assignment, but the person who must use that work to complete the next portion of the project only gets a few days.
Use all of the communication resources available to you. If you can coordinate a time when all of the group members are available, a conference call over Skype can help you work out the details of your online projects quickly and efficiently. Google Documents allows you to stay organized by collaborating on files and uploading data to a shared space. Your online course may provide a discussion forum, chat room or interface for recording and listening to comments.
Make the most of individual skills. Since you will never be in the same room to assist each other, the project can go more smoothly if you take advantage of your classmates' strengths. If someone is a master of PowerPoint, it may be best to put him or her in charge of assembling a presentation, while the English major may want to proofread the final product.
Trust and respect your teammates. You have to let go of some control when organizing online group projects and working on presentations. When you respect the knowledge and abilities each classmate brings to the endeavor, you are in the perfect frame of mind to learn from your group and create online projects and presentations you can submit with pride.