Group assignments can be a stressful part of the semester. These are our top tips to get stuff done and avoid any major conflicts.
1. Get Together. Meeting on campus is usually the most convenient for all group members. Coffee can be a nice way to bond early in a project; a library study room can be more practical for computer access and completing a project. Avoid wasting time looking for a free space, by booking a study room in advance online or through the QUT iPhone app.
2. Divide and Record. Sharing the workload is the advantage of group work, but miscommunication about who is doing what by when is a cause of problems. Writing down and circulating your planning, means that everyone is on the same page, literally. There are even templates to make this simple.
3. Keep in touch. Being proactive about communication helps avoid blow ups, which is often a better solution than resolving conflict. Proactive steps include: swapping contact details at the beginning of project; deciding in advance how issues will be resolved (compromise, majority, consensus); and maintaining open communication outside the group, e.g. with lecturers and tutors. For more effective teamwork strategies, check out Studywell.
4. Share. A lot can happen between weekly group meetings (and not necessarily the project). Sharing documents online, where everyone can monitor changes and contribute can save time. As well as cut down on email confusion and multiple versions. We’ve used Google docs, wikis, and experimented with zoho, but there are lots of alternatives freely available on the web.
We’d like to hear what other solutions you have for working with group documents online. Do you use wiki spaces? Do you find Google docs easier to use?
Or have you got everything in a shared Dropbox folder?