Online degree programs are a great way for busy people who want to get a degree or certification. The reason is because online programs allow people who do not have time for school to attend around their schedule via an online platform. Plus, with the ever-changing face of technology, online degree programs have evolved into classes that rival the face-to-face experience. So not only are students receiving quality content, they are also getting a chance to participate in some of the activities that take place in brick and mortar schools.

One such activity is group work. Group work in online courses used to be seen as a burden, especially since many of the students did not live in the same area and could not “meet” to discuss how things would get done. Yet now the technology and skills are there, it is just a matter of knowing how to bring it all together. Here are five tips to help you make your online group work go as smoothly as possible.

Make a team charter

One of the first things you should do when you start working in groups is to create a team charter. I a team charter is basically an agreement that lays out how communication is going to work, what roles people will have, and spells out the tasks of the assignment. Once that is agreed upon, keep a copy for reference. Always make sure that you set up times to meet as well, and spell out any procedures that will benefit the group.

Set a tight schedule with deadlines

A tight schedule is necessary for online degree programs, and the same is true for group work. In your team charter, it is a good idea to place a working schedule that comes complete with deadlines that the group must meet. You should do this even if you only have to turn in a final draft of your work. Setting up milestones gives you a chance to offer feedback to each other about the different parts of the project and lets your group correct any errors or incorrect information.

Figure out the best way to communicate

There are many different tools that allow people to communicate online, and it is in your groups interest to find the right one to fit all of your needs. That means looking into what types of platforms are available across different types of devices and if they are user-friendly. You may run into someone who is not as technologically advanced as others, so be prepared to also help guide your group mates, if needed.

Set up a doc sharing site

Instead of emailing each other back and forth, it would benefit your group to utilize a document sharing site (such as Google Docs) that lets you work together without having to send the same document over and over. This helps keep the changes all in one place, and shows who did what revision at any given time.

Contact your professor if needed

One thing you should always do when working in online groups is to contact your professor if things are not working out. For example, if someone is not communicating or is missing deadlines, you need to let the professor know so they can intervene. If you do not, it can hurt your group's chances of succeeding.

Online degree programs used to feel like a lonely task, without much interaction with your classmates. However, thanks to different types of technology, group work is now possible, giving students a chance to meet with other like-minded individuals who want to better their lives. By following the tips given above, you will find yourself with less stress and a better grade.

Author's Bio: 

I am a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on business, health and other various topics. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication from UCLA and currently reside in Santa Cruz with my dog, Sassy.