Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Working With Groups at a Distance

In online classrooms and in the world of work individuals can be assigned to projects where they will be working with others at a distance. New Internet technologies are providing people with new methods of working together and some of the tools, along with the pros and cons of working on collaborative projects at a distance are outlined in an online article titled, Working Together at a Distance. The article lists some ways that groups can communicate effectively with each other at a distance:

*Working with people you already know and have a relationship with can help.
*Making assumptions about others while working with groups at a distance can make things go "downhill".
*Everyone should get together at least once as teams "that meet face-to-face are more successful".
*Meeting early in the project helps teams to bond.
*Teams working at a distance are often working separately and should plan to connect at key points in the project.
*Daily checks at the group project site and phone calls are helpful to projects.
*Jumping to conclusions can unravel trust.
*Project sites that act as a repository for documents can assist groups at a distance.

I believe the two statements (Leveton,2007) are especially important for groups working at a distance:

1. "Though e-mails and other written messages are useful tools, Kwo has found that they're often misinterpreted".
2. The importance of being a "grown up" and giving " people the benefit of the doubt".

With today's information technologies opening up all sorts of new ways for people to connect at a distance it becomes increasingly important for groups working at distance to plan ahead. Are you interested in leadership? Working or taking online courses in the 21st century? Reading the Leveton (2007) article along with adopting team behaviors to improve communications should be first on the list of any group planning to complete a project at a distance.

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