Best Communication Strategies for Virtual Group Projects

Lizzie Ottenstein
Shreejana Mainali
A student having a video conference call to discuss an online group project with her team.

Online group projects prepare students for the modern workplace, where virtual teamwork and collaboration are indispensable. Nevertheless, one can succeed in a virtual group project if the team members know how to establish effective communication. 

Here are few tips to help students communicate efficiently while working on online group projects: 

➜ 1. Start with a project communication plan

The 1st crucial step in establishing effective communication for an online group project is crafting a project communication plan. A communication plan is like a tool guide that sets clear guidelines on how to brainstorm, periodic check ins, group leadership, and meeting agendas. Start by determining the communication method your group will use. Schedule a project timeline, team members, resources, tools, agenda and deliverables. Gather everyone and set up a virtual meeting to clearly state the project goals and lay down every step the team needs to follow to reach those goals. Don’t hesitate to take help from the instructors who will guide you in implementing your communication process. 

➜ 2. Set up and monitor virtual group space

The next step is to create a virtual group space in the school’s learning management system. The instructor or the team leader should be in charge of creating a private virtual space for each team to connect, brainstorm and bond together. Use this space to share files, ideas, project updates and announcements. It’s important to monitor the group space for which each team can pick a moderator or leader who can bridge the communication gap by offering consistent feedback on the performances and progress.

➜ 3. Use the right tools

Utilize the communication tools integrated in your school’s online learning platform. Discussion boards, forums, video conferencing, and file-sharing tools are some of the effective tools for communicating. Students can also install project management softwares such as Slack and Asana for better team collaboration and streamlining team communication in long term projects. You can also use these software for extra meetings or last-minute improvisation. These tools are free and ensure everyone is informed, updated and on the same page.

➜ 4. Assign roles and functions

Group roles encourage accountability and lackthereof deters motivation and responsibility. Assign roles according to member ability and interest. One student may be interested in research work, while others in statistical analysis and so on. Team leaders, moderator/co-ordinator/s, researcher/s, technical specialist/s, organizer/s, technical writer/s are some of the important roles. 

➜ 5. Peer feedback system

Constructive and actionable feedback is crucial to the success of any group project. Start by crafting a peer feedback form, using Google Forms, or a template based on communication efficacy and teamwork experience. Peer feedback can access individual performance and communication. It increases transparency and motivation to work more collaboratively. 

Team communication and collaboration play major roles in the success and failure of online group projects. Though online learning has added a complex layer to teamwork, with simple tips and strategies like crafting a communication plan or maximizing virtual meetings, we can push ourselves to succeed!