Working in Virtual Groups

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For the online learner, working on group assignments can be especially challenging. Following these steps can help your group meet specific needs. 

1. Create a schedule: In an online class, it’s likely that you’re working with students with very unique schedules. You could be dealing with different time zones, work schedules and family life. Schedule a block of time that works for each member so the group can actually collaborate on the project. Set deadlines and the schedule for the whole project at the beginning so everyone can be respectful of each other’s time. 

2. Assign responsibilities: Take the time to get to know your team members to understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, divide tasks, create deadlines and choose a group leader to hold everyone accountable. 

3. Communications is key: Distribute phone numbers, emails and any other methods of communication that work for your group. Establish clear guidelines of how and when the group can most effectively communicate with each other. 

4. Peer evaluation: Ask your professor to implement peer evaluation to ensure equal participation and individual accountability. If group members are unresponsive and dismissive of the group project, talk to your professor immediately to establish an honest line of communication about the issue. 

Although difficult, group projects can be very rewarding. Plus, working virtually with groups gives you unique experience that could be valuable for future jobs. Good luck!

Balancing Work, Life, and Family

Many people pursue an online education in order to still have the flexibility to tend to their careers and family. However, with working 40 hours a week, maintaining a household and taking care of kids, it’s no question that this can be a challenge. Follow these tips to find a balance:

  • Be open with your family: By clearly explaining your reasons for pursuing an online education and communicating your online workload, your family is more likely to be supportive and pick up a few extra household tasks in order to lighten your to-do list. Be sure to celebrate good grades and milestones with your family as well in order to keep them involved.
  • Maximize on your time management: Waiting in the car pool line to pick your kid up from school? Get a head start on reading material. Have small children that take naps? Use this time to complete your schoolwork so you can spend quality time together when they’re awake. 
  • Talk to your employer: Try to set up an arrangement with your employer for more flexible hours. Explain your commitment to your job, and ask for a trial period in which you can adjust hours to something that might fit your schedule better. Be sure to communicate the benefits of an education to your employer, especially if it is related to your current career.
  • Take your time: When it comes to being a successful parent, employee and student, it’s important to do what works best for you without forcing time constraints. It’s okay to take extra time to complete your degree if you need to, so be realistic with your goals. 
Finding Help in an Online Class

Every student experiences some level of difficulty in a class, but being an online student can make this problem a little more daunting. However, being in an online course doesn’t mean you have to work through everything alone. Try reaching out to the following resources next time you’re experiencing an issue. 

1. Peers: Your peers are probably the best resource accessible to you. If you’re stuck on your homework or have a question about an assignment, it’s very likely that they’ve already had to figure it out and can talk you through it. Plus, your peers are more likely to be available at times when your professor is not.

2. Professor: When you’re unsure about something related to your course, it is perfectly acceptable to reach out to your professor. Although you can’t establish a face-to-face relationship, you can still address any questions you have via email, video chat or discussion board.

3. Syllabus: If your uncertainties are related to course requirements, due dates or available resources, you’ll probably be able to find your answer in the course syllabus. Always refer to your syllabus before reaching out to your instructor to ensure the question hasn’t already been answered.

4. Outside Resources: If you need help when the above resources aren’t available, it’s very helpful to look online. There are many forums, tutorials and videos created for situations like yours that could be very helpful to answering your questions.

A strong support system can make all the difference in achieving academic goals.

A strong support system can make all the difference in achieving academic goals.

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