Group projects are inevitable. Some of you may love them, some of you may loathe them. But one thing is for sure, we are sure to do them several times during our course of learning. So you better know how to do it without falling off the rails because no one knew what to do.

Use the right tools

When you're given a group project, it often devolves into a mess of miscommunication, 50 files named "Real Draft1.2.4 Actual.docx" and you don't even know which is the right file. However, if you use the right tool for the job you can actually know what you're up to.

Facebook group vs Email

There are so many way to organise a group project, that it may just get confusing on the way you're organising it yourself. Email is often use but the fundamental problem with email is that you need to be able to keep track of who sent what and what went where.

Creating a Facebook group eliminates this problem altogether. Almost everyone has a Facebook account so there's no need to register to a new service. You can post files, photos, polls, etc. and you can even create events if need be.

Another advantage is that you can create a group chat which acts as a more immediate form of communication to your group.

Google Docs

Google Docs is like Microsoft Office but on the web. Google Docs however has its own collaboration features which allows group editing on a specific item. You can see who edited what and in real time what others are typing. You can even roll back to an earlier revision if a document needs to be changed back.

This way, you will never have many different files and you will always be sure that the document is up to date.

Communication is key

This is one of those key points where many people sometimes fail to overlook.

When you get given your group project, make sure you know how to contact your group members in at least two different ways. Get their phone number, their email number and their Facebook. This will save you from panicking and headaches when you can't even contact them and it's due tomorrow.

Furthermore, you need to be able to know what each of you are doing, so you do not overlap in tasks or leave certain tasks unattended to.

Equal Work Load

Make sure that each member in the group is doing the same amount as the others and that they are doing the job that is best fit for them. Sounds like a no brainer right? That's because it is. Make sure however, that whoever is leading the project is not just delegating all of the work to everyone but is also taking on their fair share of the work.

Lazy group members

It's inevitable, these are the people who will never do anything in group work, you might have even been this person at some point. This was the reason I hated group projects, I was always saddled with most of the work and it made my blood boil that they were just coasting along.

The reality is, this is true for real life too. There will be people who will always be lazy and who will always be making more work for you and the other group members. You just have to deal with it in certain ways.

What you can do about it

  • You should talk to that person first, you need to tell him that he needs to take on his load of the work, you should not however, be confrontational and aggressive because this will not help at all.
  • Try to be clear in what they have to do, they should know exactly what they have to do so they will finish the work that is needed
  • If all else fails, talk to your teacher as early as possible. Do NOT leave this to the last moment as many will not find this as a valid excuse and many will see you as trying to create an extension for yourself. The teacher can then talk to the group member, or move them or take action to help your group finish their project


Written by Mark