Communication and Collaboration in Online Learning

I had never been heavily involved in any group works in my school and college career. It wasn’t until my ENG 1181 class here that I had to do works in a group setting. The way this class was set up, I was paired with three other students and we four were a group for the entire semester. Unlike other classes, most of the assignments in this class had to be done in groups that were pretty new to me. With almost every assignment making us work in a group, I was dragging the group down. I was just starting college and I did not have the confidence to speak up. One of the main difficulties that we came across was the work not being divided properly and also the works that one person did was not available to others three until the next meeting. This problem occurred mostly because no one in the group took charge. I told the three other members the first day that I am shy to speak up so if there is group work. I would like them to give me work so I won’t have to be confused about which part to do. While that was my case, others weren’t able to separate individual work parts for themselves. After a couple of assignments, this started to become a major problem, so we got together and worked out a way to solve the problem.

In the end, we ended up devising a plan to meet every Friday and work as a group on assignments, and when we had to do assignments in our own time, we split the work depending on what the member was doing in class. If a person was doing the lab inside the class while others were recording, the person who did the lab will write the detail about how the lab was done while others write about the results.  It was a quick and easy fix, but it helped our group tremendously. However, we did also have another problem, sharing our works and notes without having to actually meet. This was a problem because the works in this class were depended on the works done by other members. So, it required us to meet if we wanted to have all the material of the work together at the same place. This was becoming a problem as sometimes some members wouldn’t be able to come. Due to other works, it was hard to find the time. “Finding a chunk of time to complete all of the collaborative work is often difficult with varied schedules among the group members” (Frost, 2016).

While the first problem only required us to come up with a way to divide work, nothing technology-related was involved in solving that problem, but for this problem, we used a tool provided by OSU. We all signed up and joined a group that one of the members created in BuckeyeBox. Whenever a group member gets done with their share of work, they will either scan it or take a photo of it and upload it to the group page in BuckeyeBox. This allowed everyone to have access to the information without having to meet daily. While these two problems seem small and fixable, it was huge trouble for us at the beginning. We were all new and had no idea what exactly we were doing. Going forward in the future, I will always use BuckeyeBox as a first means of sharing information and group works between group members. Another great tool to have is GroupMe where all the members can communicate with each other. I use these two tools on a daily basis, and it has made my college life much easier.

The link above demonstrates some of the tools and strategies for successful online collaboration and learning.

Learning Online

Online learning is something that is very effective for me personally. I have taken classes that required me to be in class as well as other online classes as well. Also, I have completed a few of my GEs requirements through online classes as well. One of the most unique and well-known features of online learning that is different from face to face learning is that you won’t have to be in a classroom at a specified time for an online class. Students will have certain restrictions on their time and sometimes they are unable to attend classes on a daily basis based on when the class met times are. “If you travel and work at different locations, you may not be able to engage in traditional place-based educational or training activities” (Long, 2004, pg. 11). Although I do not work or travel, I do have to spend most of my daytime at home which limits the classes I can attend. Due to all that reason, this feature of online learning is something that I appreciate the most.

While taking online classes can seem easy because you can do the assignments and cover materials in your own time as long as you complete it before the deadline, sometimes this thinking will put yourself in trouble. While taking other online classes, I have done this many times myself where I fail to manage my time and end up not being able to complete the assignments before the deadline. I quickly realized that time management is one of my main problems and in order to deal with it, I made a calendar for myself where I organized my works evenly throughout the weeks. I made sure to strictly follow the schedule and over time, I was able to get all the works done in time. This strategy has helped me get my work done and it is something that I would recommend to everyone.

Lastly, in order for me to do well, I need to stay motivated. There are many resources available that will help me throughout this semester, but if I am not motivated enough to do my work or seek help, I will never be able to get anything done. I have always been shy to ask for help or if there is a problem, I try to find a way around it without talking to someone about it, so for me personally, I need to have an open communication with my peers and teachers so that I can get my works done in time and without having pressure from other places. The last thing I need to do to ensure my success in this program is to embrace the syllabus. “The syllabus is your guide to everything about an online class” (Littlefield, 2019). By reviewing the syllabus thoroughly, I will be notified of the assignments and their due dates, and other materials that I need to cover to get my works done. On top of that, it will have some critical information regarding the course and its policies.

The link above has much information regarding the benefits of online learning compared to a face to face learning style. I took some of the ideas from that website to construct my reflection for this post. The website has much valuable information.

Technology Resources

In my college career, I have taken many online classes. Some I took just to fill my credit hours while others to complete my GE requirements. I got different experiences and knowledge from each of those classes but one thing that remained constant is the ways I talked about those classes and the resources I used. In this post, I want to outline some of the resources and tools I have used.

  1. BuckeyeBox – This is an extremely useful resource for students to use for free. I made use of this resource the most when I was taking Eng 1181 class in my first year. This is online storage, somewhat like Google Drive but I found this more flexible to use. You can create a group and add all the people in your group to that. After that, whoever adds a file to that group, everyone else will be able to access it and use it. This will be extremely helpful when you have to do group works that require everyone to do their part and have it available soon. Also, you can transfer files from Carmen straight to BuckeyeBox so you won’t have to worry about uploading and downloading files.
  2. GroupMe – This is an app that is useful to communicate with all the group members. Everyone can download this app on their mobile devices and add all the people in their group. You can talk and discuss things about your project in this app while also be able to send photos and videos. This is a professional and easy way for group members to communicate with each other quickly
  3. Skype – While the app above easily meets the need for communication, there might be a time when the group members will have to communicate through calls for some work. In these cases, I found skype to be the most useful and easy. It can be used on the go, meaning you can either use it from your computer/laptop or your mobile devices.