Collaboration tools and techniques
When doing group work, it's really important to find ways to communicate and collaborate with your team to get the project, presentation or work done. Remember that you can meet in person, perhaps in a group study room in the Library, or communicate in other ways. Here are a few tools and techniques to get you started:
The Virtual Learning Environment has many tools built into it to assist with communication amongst your classmates. There are text-based chat rooms, private messaging functionality and an interactive white board for collaborating on projects and discussions. Find out more about Blackboard.
You can use your College credentials to get Microsoft Office 365 software for free. That means you can install the latest version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and much more on up to five compatible PCs and Macs, plus five tablets, including iPad. The same software and more is also available to students on any of College’s many public PCs.
Files can be saved and shared online in OneDrive and accessed from any device so you and your study partners can work on them together. One Note also allows you to create group study guides that you can share and work on with others in real time. Also, Lync lets you connect with others through instant messaging (IM), video calls, and online meetings. You can find more information about 365 apps and ways you can use them to collaborate with others at Microsoft’s ‘Get Office 365’ web pages.
Document sharing and editing
Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote are all useful tools for creating, sharing and collaborating on documents in the cloud. Whether you are collating data or information in a spreadsheet, working on a presentation or writing a document, one or all of these tools will be of use. Sign up for an account and familiarise yourself with how it works before suggesting it to peers.
You will have a College email account that you can access via Outlook on any workstation on campus or via any device which has access to the internet and a suitable web browser. You’ll need to login using your College username and password. You can also set-up your College email on your mobile device. Find out more from ICT.
Hangouts, chats and messaging
If you need to have group discussions but can't get everyone in the same place, try using Google Hangouts. You just need a Google login and the email addresses of the people in your group and you can chat online. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but it can actually be quite fun and will help you to get to know your group a bit better. If you're not ready for video chats, Skype offers a good instant messaging functionality with the option of video calls when you have a bit more confidence. And you can use it to call home.
Depending on the size of the group or the duration of the project, you might want to create an online space for keeping in touch and sharing messages with you peers. Facebook and WhatsApp allow you to create groups for sharing messages. On Facebook, you don't need to be "friends" to be members of the same group. Remember not all of your peers will be using social media so this won't work for everyone.