Whether a group that meets in person, or one that meets online, I always find group work difficult. Not because of other group members, but because I always have a hard time with group dynamics. I tend to be very uncomfortable in a group situation when I am not the leader. I think that this is more pronounced in an online situation because there is no good way to absolutely confirm that project sections have been turned in if I am not the one submitting the assignment. Even when group members send around an email that the project is complete or has been submitted, I wonder if the professor got the assignment. Ordinarily, I combat these nerves by volunteering to turn in the project, but due to a number of projects due at or around the same time during the semester, I felt it necessary to let someone else take responsibility this semester. We had a good group, so I felt confident as we completed project sections and assisted each other.
Group dynamics in groups where all team members live in the same area and can meet physically are different than the online experience. As an online group, alternative meeting options are needed. The use of Google Documents and chat programs was what my group chose to use and it worked well. We initially tried using the chat function in Blackboard, but several users struggled to keep a good connection when using the chat. When we determined that we would use Google for the chat service we decided to keep it simple and use Google for our other file sharing efforts as well. This consistency along with regular weekly meetings helped our group to work well together, despite our distance from each other physically.
Overall, I have found in this and other classes, that online group work can work as well as groups together if they choose a method of communication and create a schedule to communicate regularly. With regular communication and a consistent method of contacting other group members, much of the frustration felt during a group experience can be minimized, if not eliminated.
The creation of a group website was an interesting prospect. It required the group to determine the strengths of each member in order to best develop the site. We were able to determine the best areas for each of us to take the lead and then work towards the end result of the project. It required a great amount of trust on the part of the team members, to trust that someone that we had never met and possibly never interacted with, was not misrepresenting their abilities. I struggle with this any time I have a group project, but particularly when I have never worked with any of my team members previously. The lack of face-to-face interaction means that there is no body language, and since all of our communications were done via email or Google Chat, there was not verbal interaction which left few non-verbal cues to use building that trust. We had to rely solely on the written word of our group members and the results that they gave us. For the most part, we received good work from each of our team members in a timely manner. As a group, we were able to establish the needed trust and turn in our work completed well and in a timely manner.
Overall, this was a good group experience for me, especially because I let someone else take the lead. It let me experience the group dynamic and learn how to trust a group of people to finish their sections without being the one to ensure that everything was turned in. The project allowed me to learn to better participate in any group, as well as teaching me how to work well in a group that is separated by distance using different Internet options for communication.