What makes a successful virtual group?

By Zoe Taylor

When you’re studying online there could come a time where you need to work in online or ‘virtual’ teams. This can be difficult if you don’t know who your group members are and have never met them in person. So we have a few pointers on building trust in these situations.

Meet and greet
Have a meet and greet either in person or via Skype (you can now have group calls in the free version of Skype) so that you can get to know your fellow team members. Be clear about your expectations of each team member, and make sure you have a clear understanding of what their expectations are of you.

Discuss all aspects of the course
Don’t just talk about the assignment you’re working on together- you all have other assignments that require your attention and it’s a good idea to help each other with these as well by sharing ideas, giving feedback and asking/answering questions. This becomes a team building exercise, because it expands your conversations beyond the group task and into the entire course.

Communication is key
Make sure you stay transparent about the task at hand and your responsibilities. Keep your team members posted with how you’re travelling and let them know if you required help. Conduct regular meetings either in person or via Skype so that you’re making consistent contact. Be honest with your team – if you are feeling disheartened, stressed, or something comes up that means you can’t have a certain activity completed by a set deadline, let them know. The more honest you are, the more they’ll trust you, and vice versa.


Pull your weight
Work hard on your set tasks and always be willing to go the extra mile. If you start slacking the rest of your team will lose trust in you, and start to slack themselves – it’s a domino effect. Be up front with your team members if you don’t think they’re pulling their weight and offer input into their required tasks.

Assign a leader
It’s always a good idea to assign a team leader – someone who is willing to organise meetings, assign tasks and break up the assignment into parts for each team member to complete. A good team leader will be approachable and won’t be afraid to pull team members up on their mistakes or if they’re not pulling their weight. A leader ensures your assignment and time dedicated to working on it has some order to it, therefore allowing your group to produce a high quality finished product.

There’s no ‘I’ in team
The age old expression rings true here – while each of you may have your own separate tasks to be working on, your input shouldn’t stop here. You should offer to help each other and give feedback on their work. In the majority of cases, each of you receive the same score- so it’s important that you work both together and separately in order to produce a high quality assessment.

For help in finding the right career path for you, or for useful tips on areas including studying and finding success, call 1800 143 080 or visit www2.collegesonline.com.au/mycareer to contact one of our friendly career advisors!

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