As I’ve mentioned in other posts, collaboration on team projects can be challenging. Getting everyone together to work on the project is part of the problem. Trying to arrange schedules so that all those involved can participate and get on the same page can be difficult if not impossible. When you can’t get everyone together you run the risk of miscommunication and mis-aligned goals and responsibilities, leading to frustration and possible failure.
The other major problem is tracking the deliverables of everyone on the team to make sure they are getting their work done and submitted in a timely manner. When you can’t track how the other team members are progressing on their part of the project it can create a great deal of anxiety for the rest of the team, and when it is discovered that an important part of the project hasn’t been delivered on time, anger and finger-pointing follow.
Here is a process which I believe will prove effective for moving your team project through to completion.
- Once the group members have been identified, agree on one individual to take the point in communication and logistics. The point person should immediately set up a google doc with the file name Course#-Covenant and invite everyone to share editing privileges with the team. You can find more on the team covenant in my previous post HERE. The Instructor should also be invited to share the document to view participation by the whole team.
- The first week, either meet as a group to discuss the Covenant, or the point person sets up a Zoom conference, using the link in Canvas, with the whole team at an agreed upon time to dicsuss the team covenant and finalize it.
- No later than week two the group meets again to parcel out the responsibilities of the group for the project. I would include those at the bottom of the team covenant on the google doc for everyone to see.
- Still in week two, the point person should now create a google doc for the project: Course #-Project Name and share it with the group and the instructor. The point person should also create a google slide for the project: Course #-Project Name. The google doc will be the working document for those who are writing the paper and doing the research. The google slide will be the presentation document for the in-class presentation. The benefit of this document and slide presentation is that it is easy to see who has added what, and when. It will be easy for the whole group to work on the document/slide at the same time or separately, so everyone will know the status of the entire project at all times.
- Each week the point person should set up a regular meeting either in person, or through Zoom, or by chat while in the document or the slide to discuss the progress and potential areas for improvement. If you see someone is not keeping up with their area of responsibility, make sure to call them on it based on the covenant early-on.
- Every team member should take responsibility for enforcing the covenant and confronting stragglers. If you follow this process you will not only have a better chance of submitting a superior project, it will also improve your skills in working across a distance on team projects, which can be cited on your resume.
OK, now it is your turn – what does this process miss and what do you recommend as a solution?