Editorial
30 July 2020

College Tips: How to Deal With Group Assignments Remotely

It’s obvious that COVID-19 has taken a big toll on everyone, yet every cloud has a silver lining. We saw how the global lockdown sparked the acceleration of e-learning as most of the colleges and universities in the world had turned to it to ensure the continuity of knowledge delivery and acquisition. Hence, being technologically savvy is important for us to survive in this era. 

However, most students struggle to adapt and perform in e-learning mode. It might be a video project that you’ve no clue how to start, a research report that you need to discuss with your mates, or the weekly group task that always gets in the way. 

Well, there are two ways to face your assignments and tasks — you either adapt and thrive in the current situation or you don’t try, struggle, and fail miserably. Of course, it’s my sincere hope that all of us can adapt and thrive. So, I’m here to share five tips on working remotely when it comes to group assignments.

 

1. Get to know your group members

 

You may be a first-year student entering university or a final-year student who can’t wait to wrap up your university life. One thing’s for sure, you’ll definitely still have to deal with group assignments.

Whether it's an assigned group by the lecturers or a self-formed group, it’s extremely important to first get to know your members personally.

Learn to make friends with each other (if you aren’t already) and briefly find out your strengths and weaknesses. This way you can delegate the tasks according to everyone’s skills and ability, and hence maximising the efficiency of completing the assignment. 

For instance, if you have a groupmate who is a YouTuber or who enjoys creating video content, you could assign him to help out in a video editing assignment. The friend who got an A in English test could be your proofreader and the person with a creative mind could be the main idea contributor. Isn’t this effective? Moreover, one of your aims of joining university is also to expand your social circle, right? This is an opportunity for you to build connections with other students, so get to know them well!

2. Use a virtual discussion platform wisely and consistently

 

There are tons of websites and applications available out there to ease your communication with your group members. Be wise to select those that suit everyone in your team. You may start by adding your group members in a Whatsapp group, then move to other discussion platforms.

Here are some of the popular ones you can consider:

  • Google Hangouts: Just like an ordinary phone calling platform that doesn’t incur any monetary charges. It’s suitable for those who need a reminder to join meetings. Unlike some platforms, you’ll definitely be alerted when there’s an incoming call. 

  • Discord: A cool app to talk with your members in virtual rooms. Intentionally designed for gamers to talk to each other in real-time, the video and audio latency is lower than other apps. It’s suitable for those seeking smoother conversations and for fast speakers.

  • Microsoft Teams: Wonderful for those assignments that require presentation recording. Screen sharing is one of the basic features covered in Microsoft Teams. Besides, it also keeps a record of all your chats, so it can act as a notepad for your group.

These three virtual discussion platforms are my go-to when discussing assignments with my group members. You should select your tool wisely for discussions and be consistent on the platform you used for that particular assignment. Remember to find out which of the platforms is your team most comfortable with before you jump into a specific platform.

3. Set a timeline

 

In the world full of distractions and temptations, we need to fight our procrastination strategically. Setting a timeline for all your assignments and tasks is the utmost priority to avoid late submission.

You can keep a timeline by utilising the features in Google Calendar. For example, if you have a written assignment that is due the next month, plan ahead and delegate your task evenly with your group members.

Keep track of the progress of your assignment consistently by checking in once or twice a week depending on the discussion with your group members. Set the dates to track the progress and add those important dates in the Google Calendar using the feature under ‘Task’. Then, share it across with your group members. This way, it acts as a reminder for you and your team to stick to the timeline set earlier. 

Remember, starting an assignment early is always the best choice.

4. Be supportive

 

Spending time around a coffee table to talk about assignments has become a luxury ever since we were hit by the pandemic. We’re unable to enjoy this simple pleasure without fear. Most of us are still working remotely at home when it comes to group assignment. 

If setting a timeline is a priority to complete your assignments, then being supportive to one another is another priority to keep everyone sane.

Sometimes, your group members may be unable or find it difficult to solve a task on their own. Perhaps they’re going through a rough patch in life. In that case, you should be supportive and try to lend a helping hand to them. 

Aside from the assignment itself, show your group members that you care for their physical and mental well-being too. If they’re unable to cope, talk to them personally and find out how you and other teammates can provide support. After all, we have two hands — one to help ourselves and the other to help others. 

5. Review your work

 

Lastly, this is an essential step often skipped by students. However, if you wish to produce quality assignments, reviewing your work before submitting determines the grade you get. For example, although your assignments may have wonderful content, having plenty of grammar mistakes could reduce your grade significantly.

Hence, it’s always good to have a few extra pairs of eyes to proofread the text, double check the elements in the rubrics, and to make sure the alignment of the document is on point. 

For instance, you may utilise the comments feature in Google Docs to amend a part of an article written by your peers. This way, your peers would know clearly which part is needed for review and amendment. Both of you will learn through mistakes and produce a better piece of writing. Reviewing your work may seem to be an unremarkable action in the entire assignment, yet it is powerful enough to make your assignment remarkable!

These are some tips that I hope you’d find useful when it comes to working remotely for group assignments. Wishing all of you a great journey in constructing knowledge together with your group members!

Pro Tip: Need more help on completing your assignments? Here are more college tips for you!

One of The Risers’ ambassadors, Jasmine is an assertive, bold and cheerful student currently pursuing her Bachelor of Education (Hons). She enjoys teaching, learning, singing and exploring new stuff.

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