You know the challenge…trying to get more than two people together to meet or work on projects can be daunting. As part of a master of accountancy online education community, students may exist in multiple time zones and have other life commitments that created the need for an online education. Students require flexibility in the online education world, but also have to create an environment of cohesiveness in order to complete assigned group projects effectively and on time. Below are tips and tricks for completing online programs.
- Groups are typically assigned at the beginning of the course. Be proactive and either assign a leader or work as a group to establish expectations and timelines. Communication is key! If you can assign responsibilities to individuals based on interest or skill set, the group will perform better. As difficulties or challenges arise, members of the group need to feel comfortable to communicate those challenges with the group in order to stay on course with the project or consider reassignment of duties.
- Create a positive discussion forum setting. Group members will disagree, but remember to be respectful of your peers. Some students may have knowledge of something being taught and others may not. Each student is in the program to learn and benefit, so if you have knowledge that may help, teach others and vice versa.
- Online communication can be done in a variety of ways. Email, discussion boards, phone and skype are a few options. My experience in the master of accountancy online environment does not show that one is not better than the other. They all work well if you communicate expectations on the front end. You may encounter a time that you need to ask clarifying questions from a peer. Skype or phone calls may be a better format for clarification, so feel comfortable calling your peers. Establishing those connections with your peers is also great for future networking opportunities in the professional field.
- If the choice to communicate is email or discussion board, check once per day to ensure your team members that you are still engaged and are working toward your assigned task.
- Google docs has been one of the best experiences learned in this online environment. As you are working on group projects, Google docs allows you all to work on the same documents and see changes in real time. You are able to get more out of the project rather than making sure you are sharing the most recent files back and forth. I learned about this from a team member, so if a team member recommends something that you are not familiar with; do not be afraid to learn something new. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a great learning experience!
All of the bullets listed above have created a successful learning opportunity during my time at the University of Scranton. Be engaged and open to different ideas that you feel will help support your ability to get more out of your education.