If you are planning to complete an online degree program, you should be ready to participate in team projects. Every school I have ever worked with has used a team project as an assignment in at least one class, if not all of them. In an online environment, team projects are a way to encourage interaction with peers and develop interpersonal skills.
Even from the earliest days in school, teamwork or group work seemed like a good idea at the time. Who wouldn’t want help doing class work? As the saying goes: “Two heads are better than one.” However, there is also the saying: “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” So, which is it?
It's probably a little bit of both. Interpersonal skills are a necessity since you will always have to deal with other people no matter which field you choose. Even when you work for yourself, you still have to deal with clients and vendors. It is a fact of life. So, developing interpersonal skills is a good idea; however, when you are forced to work with people you didn't choose to work with, conflicts can and do arise.
There are usually a few possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: One person tries to dominate the project and disregards everyone else’s input. This person will often end up doing all of the work because they have control issues.
Scenario 2: One or more people in the group refuse to do anything, leaving the bulk of the work to the others while reaping the shared reward of a good grade.
Scenario 3: Everyone takes part in the discussion, divides the work equally and approves the final project.
If you have done any teamwork, you have likely experienced scenarios 1 and 2. The question is "How do we achieve Scenario 3?" There is no way to guarantee that your group can achieve Scenario 3 because groups are made up of people – flawed people; however, you can take certain steps to make the most of the situation.
Top Ten Tips
Someone has to take the lead or your group will flounder instead of moving forward. The leader should read everyone’s input and then sum it up and make a suggestion for how to move forward. Also, make sure that you have multiple ways to contact every team member. Because of disparate work schedules and family obligations, some people may not be able to meet in a chat room at a specific time. Use the form of contact for each member of the group that is most likely to work. If you work together using everyone’s strengths, you are more likely to reap the rewards of a job well done.