Published: April 6, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor
A facet of I’m at school and our future career as librarians is to work with others. Although group work can be very enjoyable and rewarding, it is also very easy to fall into pitfalls that can hinder the success of a group. I would like to share some tips and strategies for effective online group work that I learned from my past experience as a volunteer and as a project manager for various jobs.
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When starting a conversation about upcoming group work, introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, schedule, time zone/region you are in, some meeting dates, if you would like to meet via Zoom or via Google meeting and ask other group members for their input to decide on a consensus. Often initial group conversations revolve around introducing yourself and setting a meeting time, so having a list of possible meeting times can speed up the conversation and finalize a meeting date sooner. A fantastic tool that group members can use to schedule meeting times is Doodlewhich is a free and simple tool to find the best time for group meetings. Calendment is also another great app to use for scheduling meetings.
Google Suite or Microsoft Office can also work as effective tools for organizing group work. Although I’m a Google Suite fan, the iSchool has a range of tools that iStudents can use, including Microsoft 365 and Zoom. The iSchool also offers excellent information on group work as well as NEWS 203 course, which includes a module dedicated to group work. INFO 203 peer mentors also provided quick tutorials on using many of the features iSchool offers students. Also, LinkedIn has a great tutorial on driving
online meetings and improve tteamwork skills for those who would like more coaching in these areas.
Preparation for meetings
Once the initial meeting time and group details are decided, a meeting agenda should be drafted so that everyone knows what to expect at the meeting. It’s a good strategy to have even a simple agenda so meetings don’t get too long and important details get overlooked. Since many of us in iSchool have busy schedules with school, work and family, a meeting agenda will also ensure that time is not wasted with longer or unnecessary meetings. .
Asking group members to prepare for the meeting can also help speed up your first meeting, especially if members can only meet for an hour or less. If possible, delegate roles to members in advance and ask everyone in the group to review the task and come prepared with questions for the meeting.
Stay in touch and accountability
Once everyone has gathered and the project is underway, it is highly recommended that you send updates on your work to the group. For example, for my NEWS 202
group project, my group members and I were texting daily about our individual progress. Then, if a group member had difficulty completing a task or had time conflicts, another team member would take over their task. Although not feasible for all situations, our group was flexible with individual productivity. My INFO 202 group worked on several projects together and if one person wasn’t working as hard on one project, they took the lead on another project.
As graduate students, we all lead busy lives and can struggle to complete all the tasks that are given to us. Before committing to a project task, knowing your working style, abilities and weaknesses is very important for group work. If you have difficulty writing, it’s not a good idea to be the editor of the project. However, if you excel in grammar and spelling, being an editor may be the ideal position. When each member of the group brings their best talents, the dynamics, effectiveness and success of the group are reinforced.
The iSchool has many tips on how to
Manage your timeincluding this blog post of a former student blogger. Knowing how much time you need to commit to a group project can also be estimated by knowing what the group’s expectations are for an assignment. If the group is striving for a perfect score, adding more time to the project may be necessary. Finally, have fun with the project and get to know the other members of the group. I have found that with main classes, I will have two or more classes with the same students, including former group members.
Overall, communication is key for group projects and is even more important when collaborating virtually. Do you have any tips for a successful group project? Please share them below.