Team player: managing group assignments

Group assignments suck, no matter how good your group is. Even if you’re working with great people, it’s almost impossible to coordinate group meetings. Everyone has different schedules and out-of-uni commitments that turn group management into a hell-on-earth situation. And if you’ve got a bad group? You’re going to need some of the following group assignment solutions…

Planning your work:
In terms of planning advice, there’s really one main tip I can give you: plan ahead. Leaving group assignments to the last minute never works out, and more often than not, leads to painful all-nighters and one person doing all the work (never fun). A great tool for planning group meetings is the UniBuzz app for iPhone, which lets you create groups, plan meetings and invite your friends or group partners. You can also message the members of your group (via data, meaning essentially FREE messages!), or contact them via email or phone. Pretty convenient, huh?

Document and version management:
If you’ve ever written a group essay, you know how frustrating it is when not everyone has the right version of the document, or people do their work in different programs and save it in different file formats. One solution is Google Docs, which lets you create and share documents with others, who can edit and write in the documents. You can also all be online and writing at the same time, though I will admit this can get confusing sometimes, as one person may be trying to edit another’s work as they’re still writing. If you don’t want to use Google Docs, you can always just email everyone the new version (tedious) or continually upload new ones to a Facebook Group page, which can also be confusing, as there will be a tonne of documents with the same name on the one page.

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Working together:
The hardest part of group work for many of us is working with people we don’t know well, as we have no idea what their work ethic is like, what their strengths are, or how committed they are to the group and to the assignment. Unfortunately, we don’t usually get to choose our own groups, and if we do, it’s likely that we aren’t in a class with our friends and will have to work with people we don’t know. Best case scenario: you’re lucky and get a group where everyone shares the work equally and is happy to have regular group meetings. Worst case scenario: you get a bad group, where you’re the only one putting in any effort, and you end up doing all the work yourself. In this case, you should push your team members and try motivate them as nicely as possible. If all else fails, speak to your lecturer or tutor, because at the end of the day you don’t want to fail because of circumstances that were out of your control.

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