Technical Tips & Tricks

5. Course Activities

5.6. Working Effectively with a "Virtual" Group

For those courses requiring group work, you will generally find a designated sign-up Wiki early in the course to assist you in forming groups. Typically, a table within the Wiki will stipulate what information to fill in when joining a group (e.g., name); however, you are welcome to add columns/rows. As some offline communication will be necessary to coordinate/complete your assignment, sharing your contact information is important so that your partner / other group members know how to contact you outside the course platform. 

Coordinating schedules can be tricky in this virtual world. This is why, when you're collaborating on an online project, it's so important to check in often (2-3 times a day would be ideal), both with the project website (in this case, the course site) and also with the email that you're using. 

If you can make that work (and not everyone can because of travel and limited computer access), you'll actually find it much easier to work online. You might even find it helpful to connect using an Instant Messaging systems (e.g., Skype) or web conferencing (e.g., GoToMeeting) that you may have access to. You can also exchange any other contact information you are comfortable with including phone, email, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Given the short timeframe of your courses, we encourage groups to use whichever communication channels work best for them.

As with any group, taking time, in the beginning, to share your expectations and working styles and set "group norms" will make the rest of your time together flow much more smoothly. We strongly encourage respectful communications between students both online and offline and equitable division of responsibilities.

Your instructor can support you if you encounter any issues working with your partner/group.