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What Makes an Online Group Project Work?

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Instead of envisioning one large group project, visualize the entire assignment as four or five smaller projects that will each require just two or three steps, rather than dozens. The project contains too many steps to reach the final outcome. The complexity makes it difficult to understand and to delegate work, and to set achievable goals. Resentment because of lack of work parity. Group members become angry because the work load is not evenly distributed.

Some team members may be perceived as slackers or freeloaders, who take credit but refuse to pull their weight. The converse can also be true. There may be resentment because one team member will attempt to dominate and not allow individuals to participate in the process. The dominant person may be perceived as a bully, much to his or her surprise. She thought she was simply being efficient, proactive, and "Type A.

List the roles and the responsibilities and behaviors expected of each role. Then, assign tasks to specific team members, and develop a realistic set of due dates. Make sure that there are clear ways to be in touch with each other if there are questions. Required collaborations do not reflect the real time commitments of the participants, nor do they reflect schedules or time zone differences.

Give the group at least a week to do each project, no matter how small. Try to communicate live-time if you can, either with instant messenger, chat, video chat, or with Internet telephony, such as Skype.

The way team friction manifests itself can be subtle. Group members disagree, express frustration, or stop communicating altogether. Some team members are deliberately obstructive, or criticize work, endlessly debate small points, or refuse to contribute at all. Instead of working on the problem, the energy of the group is spent in conflict resolution. Some may drop out. Others find they become passive when they believe that their input does not matter, and they let the dominant team members do the work.

Define the roles as well as the tasks. Provide guidelines for team-member roles, and describe actions to be taken by each member of the group. Tasks are vague, poorly defined.

For each category in the Selected Category list, select the permissions that you want the group members to have when they access the category. In the Global Permissions section, select one of the following check boxes for each permission:. If neither Allow nor Deny is selected, the user will not have access to the category unless he or she is explicitly given access elsewhere, for example, during the process of adding or modifying a user.

In most cases, you need to set permissions only at the group level and not at the user level. To quickly set permissions, you can use a template. In the Set permissions with Template box, select the security template that you want to apply toward the group, and then click Apply. In the Global Permissions section, select the global permissions for the group.

These are permissions that the group members have beyond their assigned category permissions. You can configure Office Project Web Access to automatically synchronize the security groups with groups of the same name in Active Directory. In the Scheduling section, select the update frequency that you want, and then select the date and time for when you want to start the updates. If previously inactive users are found during the synchronization process and you want to automatically reactivate these users, select the Automatically reactivate currently inactive users if found in Active Directory during synchronization check box.

If so, how do students overcome it and succeed in their projects? Are there opportunities that are important for the success of online group projects which are not presented at face-to-face group projects? With these questions in mind, we asked students in an online class to share their past group experiences at the beginning of the semester: One of the ways it implements constructivist principles is through the design of educational activities within an authentic situation that embodies knowledge and skills that students need to learn.

This authenticity stimulates students to go beyond memorizing facts. It encourages them to perform like active practitioners in the field to analyze, evaluate and integrate the facts and skills into a cohesive approach to solve problems that the situation presented. Consistent with its goal of making learning a mirror of practice, most PBL implementations encourage collaboration, cooperation, and communication among learners during this process. Learners bring together their previous experiences, skills and current understandings into a negotiation process that should contribute to strengthen their response to the learning situation.

The process, which includes consultation of sources of information, negotiation of understandings, and design and refinement of the solution, is facilitated by continuous reflection on content and process. It is improved on an ongoing basis by input from multiple sources and perspectives of assessment. The result constitutes an informed response of students to address the situation.

These authors emphasize several important aspects that characterize effective group work: This last point constitutes the biggest challenge for the group of students who participated in our study because most students were not able to meet face-to-face in this online class. The online environment, with various computer-mediated communication CMC technologies, provides new opportunities as well as challenges.

It is the goal of our paper to find out what students consider as important characteristics that make a group project work in an online learning environment. Distance learning in various forms has been around for a long time, but it was only until the past few years that it became feasible to offer online distance courses to large numbers of individuals. Statistics indicate that increasing numbers of adult learners choose online distance learning as a way to obtain new knowledge, to keep up with the changing world around them, or to continue their life-long learning NCE, The open-ended learning environments provide an authentic, situated and self-directed learning experience with the electronic tools and resources Hannafin, Hill and Land, Based on their research findings, experienced online instructors and practitioners recommend that the main indicator of success in online teaching and learning is a well-designed course that fosters interactivity through the creation of a virtual learning community Bender, ; Collison et al.

That is, the active communication, interaction, online presence, moderated discussions, and formation of an online learning community are the key elements for high quality online education. Problem-based learning PBL is one of the educational methodologies that have emerged from traditional classroom practice as a successful approach to strengthen learning.

Therefore, designing distance learning experiences with PBL can be one of the alternatives by which institutions provide equal quality distance education to their populations. In online distance learning environments, synchronous and asynchronous CMC and its technologies becomes the default means tot mediate most interactions among students separated in space or time.

The course lasted one semester and was conducted completely online using Blackboard. The course explored two major themes: The course assignments included class discussions, individual reflection journals, and a small-group PBL project. The course was facilitated by one instructor and two teaching assistants.

Thirty-two students were enrolled in the course. Most were graduate students from a communication and instructional technology program. Some students already held jobs in the fields of education or educational technology. Twenty-six of the 32 students participated in the collaborative problem-based learning experience.

The 26 students self-grouped themselves into four groups of four students each and two groups of five students each.

The criterion for the voluntary self-selection into a group was common interest in the types of learning environments to be supported by CMC e. Students were asked to share some past group project experiences in a discussion forum at the beginning of the semester as a way to be prepared for the coming online PBL projects: Some open-ended questions were used as conversation starters: What did you like or dislike about a past group project experience?

What do you think makes a group project meaningful for your learning? Twenty-three students posted their ideas for a period of 16 days. We each analyzed the responses independently and then came together to exchange ideas about similarities and differences of our analyses.

Using open coding and computer-mediated discourse analysis methods Herring, , we agreed on initial categories that students deemed important for a group project. Fifteen students provided an overall appraisal of their previous group work experience. Student statements regarding past group experiences focused on obstacles to group work or suggestions to achieve success.

Focus, group dynamics, time management, leadership and facilitation, communication policy, commitment, formation of groups, dependencies, grading policy, flexibility, and work ethics were mentioned as important factors that helped make group work successful. Students were first encouraged to share their preferences and ideas regarding potential themes for group work during the second week of classes.

Groups were more or less officially constituted by the fifth week. During this time interval, they also had the chance to begin exchanging ideas synchronously and consolidating groups by using chat tools. Once the groups were appropriately constituted, small group work focused on further defining the problem from the ill-defined alternative prompts that were provided.

Design a new CMC tool or technology platform for educational purposes e. Create a conceptual CMC model for teaching and learning purposes. Design an online course for students in K12 or higher education environment. Propose a CMC implementation plan for a classroom, a school, a company, or an organization. Students further defined the types of learning contexts for which they wanted to design CMC support.

This included audience, technology access, computer literacy and communication needs. This process of problem definition and refining culminated with submission of a project proposal by each of the groups on the sixth week. The proposal had a dual purpose: One concern that was identified in most of the proposals was the need to reduce the scope of the projects based on time constraints enforced by length of the course.

After the groups received their feedback on the proposal, they began making decisions on the communication theories that would describe the communication settings of their target audience and those that would help justify the adoption of particular CMC technologies to satisfy those communication needs.

Clearly identify the work required.

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When it comes to online learning, Michelle Covert has one message for instructors: Stop assigning so much group work. Covert, who completed an online master’s in higher education administration.

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Group work for class projects can sometimes be difficult, especially for online students. Follow these useful tips to help guide your online group project!

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Online group collaboration projects also help online learners build essential life skills. Improved communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and Project Management are just some of the rewards up for grabs. But, when you had to work with the same individuals on an online group project, it was another issue altogether. How to Survive Virtual Group Work. Most e-learners have mixed feelings about virtual group work and the activities they've had to do with their classmates. Perhaps you've had the same experience: you loved going to the discussion.

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One of the pros of an online group projects is that it gives classmates time to work together and get to know one another better and bond together. When you take online courses you are on . A group is a collection of users who have the same security requirements in Microsoft Office Project Web Access. By adding users to groups, you can significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend managing their individual permissions.