So you thought you were going to avoid working with other people by taking some online classes huh? Well, you may just have, but chances are that you will not be able to get through an online degree without having some sort of collaboration with others. Why is this? Why can’t you just learn on your own and do on your own? Well, probably because part of your online college experience is to teach you to work on a team. Not that everyone will go get a job where they work on teams, but even business owners have to work with others. In just about anything you choose to do you will be working with others in some form or fashion. Learn how to do it now and you’ll be miles ahead once you graduate.

You may not like working with others. That can change. Many of us have had experiences with others that we would rather forget. But if you take some time to learn some skills you are sure to come to enjoy it more. In group work you need communication skills, organizational skills, hard work skills and a little bit of patience.

Let’s start with the communication skills. It’s not always easy to get your point across to others. We all grow up with different backgrounds to the words we use. Sometimes when we use a certain word we think others should know what we mean by it, and this may be generally true. But sometimes a word is negatively charged for someone you are sharing with when to you it means something quite to the contrary. Just as a quick example, some may have learned growing up in a home with feminist parents that words like rule, dominion and head when referring to men/women relations are condescending and to be fought against. And another may have grown up in a home where they learned that men are to rule over women like Christ rules over the Church (pardon my religious reference, just making a comparison), with understanding, gentleness, protection, patience and love. We have similar difference in other areas too. However, you can learn to ask people what they mean when something they say seems a bit odd. This can help divert simple misunderstandings dealing with words.

To plan or not to plan…not a good question. Planning when in a group context helps everyone know what part they are going to be playing. When everyone owns a task, nobody owns it. You may have run up against a slacker before in a group. Oft times this comes from no ownership of tasks, lack of followup or lack of clarity on a given task. So, when you’re in a group, plan well to avoid some common group hang-ups.

Hard work is key to any kind of task, but especially to group work. Pulling your own load and helping to ease the already existing stress of the other students builds group cohesion like nothing else, well, exept maybe bringing brownies to a group study. However, since you’re online, you’re going to have to rely on the hard work to put a smile on the face of your fellow students.

Patience is a virtue said a character on an old James Bond movie. I thought it was insightful when I heard it, but found out later that the concept didn’t originate from Roger Moore. Timeless is the virtue of patience and timeless are the benefits that come from it. There will be times when you need to extend a little understanding to a fellow student who is not meeting deadlines for your online college group work. Sometimes all you need to do is hear them out and validate them as a person to get them in a healthy space to step up and start matching team effort. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

So, if you land yourself on an online college team, remember some of these points and you’ll have a much smoother go. Good luck!

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