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Organize Your Group Online Workshop

Introduction

Need help making your group project actually work?

Watch this short video for some tips to get your project off on the right track. When you're done with the video, check out our recommended apps and systems to keep your project on track.

Tools

Google Suite

Let’s talk about Google Suite. You already have access to the full range of Google products as a UTC student, and you’ll be able to keep using Google Suite after you graduate. You’re probably already familiar with tools like GMail, Drive, and Google Docs. Other tools from Google that will come in handy on a group project include:​

This is the whole package when it comes to productivity and collaboration tools, you just need to take advantage of everything Google offers.  There’s something for every part of the job. Don’t be intimidated by how many tools there are. You can get started with a few tips about using Google products to collaborate with your group:

  • Check your email! Everyone in your group should agree to check their email regularly, because this is where you will get many of your notifications from Google.
  • Use shared documents and folders in Google Drive. Instead of everyone making their own documents, one person in the group should make a Google Drive folder and share it with the other group members. Your group can create all their documents, and share all their files, in one place. Plus everyone will have access to it all the time! These folders and documents are easy to get to, by logging into your Google Drive account and clicking "Shared With Me."

Google Calendar

Using Google Calendar is an important tool for keeping your group project on schedule. With Google Calendar, you can:

Create appointments

In order to effectively use your calendar, you'll need to keep it up to date. It's a smart idea to put your classes, along with assignment due dates and exams, on your calendar as soon as you get them. Making an appointment is easy, and you can make the appointment repeat so you don't need to make separate calendar entries for each class.

Creating an appointment is really easy. On your calendar, just click on the time you want your meeting or event to take place, and then drag your mouse until you want it to end. You can also click on your calendar and adjust the times in the pop up box. Give your appointment a name (something like "ENGL 1020 Group Meeting"), and click save. You can also add more information like the meeting location.

Invite people

When using Google Calendar to coordinate meetings and group deadlines, you'll need to include other people. Adding people to a Google Calendar appointment is easy. You just need to know their Google account.

Once you've created your appointment on your Google Calendar, double click it to open up the more options page. This is where you can invite your group members to the event. Simply type their Google accounts in the "Guests" box to invite them.

Add reminders

Whenever you create an appointment on Google Calendar, it will add a notification 10 minutes before the event by default. You can change this notification, or add multiple reminders. Notifications are reminders that will pop up on your computer (if you have desktop notifications enabled) or on your phone. You can also set up email reminders for days or even weeks before the appointment.

Microsoft Teams

Next is Microsoft Teams. If you have an Office365 account then you will have this included for free! This platform’s ease of use and user-friendly layout will get you set up with communicating with each other on the first page.

Communicate with your group

Under Posts, you can begin a conversation, mention someone in your team, add images or attachments, and more. If you need to chat with someone privately, the Chat feature allows you to select a person or multiple people for an individual or group chat.

Work together

With Teams, you will have the capability of easily collaborating with your group through Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you noticed at the top of the Teams page, there are tabs ranging from Posts, Files, etc. You can click on the + to add a new tab. This option will let you include uploaded files or additional apps that may be helpful for your team’s needs, such as Planner. 

Keep track of work

Activity lets you view the activity log to keep track of changes made by the group. Here, you can open the feed and view what was added, mentioned, replied to, or even if someone reacted to a message. Additional features of Teams include Calendar, which can pull your schedules and meetings from your Outlook calendar, and Calls if you ever need to communicate with your team through voice or video calls.

Trello

Last but not least: Trello. With this project management tool you will only need to sign up with an existing email address. Trello keeps it simple by utilizing boards, lists, and cards in their simplest form. Once you create your board you can make lists with tasks called cards. You can go into more detail with cards by filling a description, assigning tasks to members, setting due dates, adding checklists, and more! 

Cards

Sharing files through cards is easy. By accessing a card, it opens up features to write comments, mention members, or add attachments. Trello can also send notifications, such as when someone is mentioned in a card, and keeps track of activity within a board.

If you need extra features specific to your project, you can add Power-Ups! These are apps and plug-ins that are accessible through Trello. 

Lists

An easy way to keep track of cards is by naming lists In-Progress and Completed. Tasks can be under the In-Progress list when members have been assigned to a card and are working on the task. These list titles are only suggestions. You can name them things that are more specific to your tasks and needs for your group.

Organizing tasks


When a card is finished, you can simply click and drag that card into the Completed list when you’re done.

 

Make A Plan

Tip #1: Start Early

Have you heard of working smarter, not harder? Starting your group project early is basically the definition of working smarter instead of harder and will make your project run much more smoothly than waiting.

Making a group agreement is a way to get everyone in the group on the same page and set expectations. It can include things like:

  • Working together
  • Communicating together
  • What to do if you can’t complete your part of the project on time

This will set you up for creating your group game plan: 

  • Start brainstorming ideas for your project
  • Figure out what your tasks are
  • Deciding what tools to use to communicate

Tip #2: Estimate Your Time Commitments

While you’re figuring out your game plan, think about how much time you can actually commit to this project. Then talk about it with your group. Communication is key to having a functional group project. Informing your team of your prior commitments (jobs, family, etc.) will prevent everyone from falling behind in the long run. In general, people are way more understanding of time conflicts before the conflict is a problem.

Tip #3: Prioritize and Assign Your Tasks

You already established your tasks, so now it’s time to prioritize them. Take your list of tasks and rank them by priority. Designing your slideshow should probably come after doing the research for your presentation, right? This is also a great time to start assigning tasks to people. Look at the time commitment each task probably requires, as well as each group member’s availability and skills. Don’t forget to assign tasks equitably so that no one in the group feels like they’re doing too much work.

Tip #4: Decide on Deadlines

Now that you have your tasks assigned, set milestones and deadlines for each task. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete each task and set hard deadlines for them. Make sure everyone can agree on them and put them in your calendar or planner now to make it easier to keep track of your due dates. You should also decide on check-in meetings now, like when to have them and how you’ll meet. Are you going to meet in person or online? If you’re meeting in person, have one group member be responsible for booking the study rooms in the Library.

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