Online group work: the most important tips

Written by: Quirin Eberl, 05.05.2021

By now it has established itself in nearly every field of study – online group work. Perhaps you have already had some positive or negative experiences yourself or are wondering how you can make this new aspect of your studies more enjoyable and successful. You will learn this and much more from this article!

Why is it often difficult to work in groups on Zoom & Co?

There are many reasons that can make digital group work difficult or in worst cases fail completely. For example, people make less effort if they have the impression that their contribution is not being recognized individually. Another reason for a loss of motivation are people who do not engage, who have no positive influence on the task and therefore do not help to make any progress in the joint work. If you feel unmotivated yourself, check out our article, which shows you how you can motivate yourself for your studies.

In addition, a loss of coordination can lead to the failure of the project. All thoughts and contributions collected must be combined centrally and sensibly. Since each person has a different approach, this is often difficult. To avoid these factors, we have collected the most important tips for your digital group work to turn out as a complete success.

1. Structure

Digital group work in particular depends on an easy structure. This includes not only areas of responsibility and the distribution of tasks, but also a clear description of the vision and the mandate. The task can only be successfully mastered if all team members know exactly what challenges they will face individually and the group as a whole.

2. Responsibility

At the beginning, as in any group work, a group leader should be elected. However, he is not responsible for the sole implementation of the project, but acts as an organizer. Responsibility must be shared and written down within the group. In retrospect, it is not possible to assign unfounded blame.

In online studies in particular, it can be particularly easy to stay away from the responsibility of group work and not support it. To counteract this, all tasks, including deadlines, have to be fairly distributed right from the start. The group leader must help to organize this division of tasks and to control the schedule and the implementation of the assigned tasks.

3. The right platforms & digital tools

In order to be able to collect all thoughts, files and progress in a structured way, you need at least one suitable platform. Multiple platforms can also be used if you need them for different purposes for example. We have put together a small collection of which platforms and which online tool can support you and your team.

  • Scheduling and written communication: WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook
  • Video conferences and presentations: Zoom, Microsoft Teams
  • Data collection: Google Drive, Dropbox

Agree on a certain combination of these platforms right at the beginning of the project so that nobody makes mistakes or important data and documents will get lost in the course of the work. All platforms mentioned are free of charge and available for IOS as well as Android. You all already know these platforms? Then you have probably already had experience with studying online. In this article we have also collected some interesting information about online studies for you.

4. Regular meetings

This tip is especially important if you don’t already know your fellow students.

Regular meetings lead to better cooperation and a more relaxed working atmosphere. It also helps to bring a clear structure to digital group work. This prevents participants from forgetting to attend the meetings, as they are a regular appointment. In addition, work steps can be divided into weekly units, which promotes productivity.

5. Set realistic deadlines

Deadlines are essential for successful digital group work. However, if these are unrealistic and not feasible for group members, the work ethic will suffer. It is also possible that some colleagues carry out partial steps of the project improperly and are not able to meet the deadlines because of that.

6. Respect

Everyone deserves respect, this also applies when working in groups. Each group member has unique strengths and weaknesses, which must be used or circumvented. You should therefore not expect every team member to be on the same level of knowledge as you are. This is particularly important at a university where people of different ages and educational backgrounds come together.

You have to be empathetic towards your fellow human beings and not lose respect for them if certain things do not work right away. Respectful interaction is not only essential in digital group work, but in every part of life in which you have to deal with people.

7. Celebrate milestones

An important component of successful group work is recognizing milestones and celebrating them. Praise and recognition release happiness hormones, which also act as motivators. Did you get a good grade or positive feedback in an interim presentation? Very good! Celebrate this (online) and be proud. This feeling will motivate you to keep performing well!

In order for digital group work to lead to the desired result, there are a few things to consider. From the right structure and clear area of ​​responsibility to respect and the right platforms. There can be numerous obstacles when it comes to online group work. However, if you manage to bring all group members on the same page, nothing stands in the way of a successful project.

8. Share assistance

Simply send this article to all participants at the beginning of the next group work so that all members have an idea of ​​what makes a productive and good collaboration.

We wish you a lot of success and fun with your next (online) group work!

Your STUWO Team!

Any questions?

We are happy to help!