As a student of The University of Scranton’s accredited online MBA program, I’ve been fortunate when it comes to groupwork. The possibility of group projects was one of my biggest fears entering an accredited online MBA education as it seemed like it would be much more difficult to build the rapport necessary to facilitate strong groupwork. Fortunately, my experiences in group projects have so far been very positive and I have found that, while perhaps a bit more difficult, it is still possible to successfully navigate group projects in an online program.
Upon entering the program, I did not have to wait long to enter my first foray into group projects as my first MBA class required a class-long group project. Now, I will admit that this first experience was likely unique as the other three classmates assigned to our group all lived locally to me, so in a rare instance of online education, our group was able to meet in person to conduct some of our work. One of our classmates lived about thirty minutes away, so we didn’t have the luxury of meeting in person every time, but being able to open and close the project face-to-face did make the process easier. During the rest of the course, we relied on the same methods that aid all other online students, such as Skype, email, and sometimes texting.
While my first group project experience was an exception, the other classes involving groupwork did not afford me the same opportunity to meet in person. I took Project Management and once again, I was part of a group that had to work on a project throughout the entire course. Once again, Skype and email became incredibly important in our communication process. One of the better strategies we developed was a weekly recurring meeting where we could evaluate the status of our project, assign job duties for the week, and make sure we were all comfortable with the direction we were headed. The standing Skype appointments took the burden off of us to schedule groupwork every week, and it made it easier for us to stay on schedule.
In all of my group projects during the online MBA program, I have found that its always helpful to assign someone to be somewhat of the project leader. While they are not above anyone else in the group as a leader may sometimes be, they were responsible for reviewing everyone’s work, integrating it into a single document, and making sure the group was on schedule. Assigning a project leader such as this often alleviated the awkwardness of correcting one another’s work. While we were all encouraged to provide input, the project leader was specifically responsible for making sure that anything submitted on behalf of the group was consistent, proofread, and free from obvious errors. Having used this method in multiple groups, I have felt that it definitely helped to ensure that the groupwork submitted was of high quality.
Working in groups through an online program can certainly be a challenge, but the challenge is not insurmountable. If the group can make a plan early and communicate supportively with one another, group projects through an accredited online MBA are not nearly as stressful as they may seem. With good communication, strong work ethics, and positive leadership, groupwork that is done remotely can still have great results both in grading and learning facilitation.