With the introduction of health and safety risks, Wi-Fi failures and lack of face-to-face interaction, the difficulty to complete collaborative assignments has increased.
Melanie Layne, senior in social work, said group work has been much more difficult because you have to communicate via text messaging or set Zoom meetings.
Layne’s social work major is a small group of people, and she typically has classes with the same 10 students.
Before COVID-19, group projects were made difficult due to personality differences, different levels of work ethic and scheduling conflicts. Those problems have increased since the pandemic.
For Layne, the majority of her group assignments have been collaborative papers reminiscent of the type of paperwork social workers do.
“In the real world as a social worker, you fill out paperwork, but not as a team,” Layne said. “That part has been weird.”
However, as the structure of the working world continues to adapt, Layne said learning how to communicate and work with others remotely will be helpful for her in the future.
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Torr Coulthard, sophomore in aviation management, said the members in his group project for class communicated through GroupMe. This mode of communication made it more difficult to establish working relationships with group members.
“I had a problem getting in contact with somebody in my group, and I never knew who they were throughout the entire project,” Coulthard said. “I couldn’t go to them in class and ask them questions directly.”
Coulthard also experienced complications presenting in class.
“We had to present over Zoom, and that was difficult because it’s a different style when you’re presenting online,” Coulthard said.
Although Coulthard experienced some difficulty in group work, he learned helpful online communication skills.
Coulthard said using online platforms such as Zoom to hold meetings and communicate ideas has become normalized. Remote communication will be useful in the future for working people, he said.
“We can communicate online, and it’s a lot more comfortable than it was before,” Coulthard said.
Abby Chapin, junior in her second semester of nursing school, said her group work this semester was “doable” because online communication through Zoom has become more common.
It was easy for her and her project partners to hold meetings and discuss ideas, she said. Chapin worked on two group papers with other nursing school students.
“Zoom made it very possible to figure our stuff out rather than having to text and discuss through messages,” Chapin said. “I feel like it was almost helpful to just do it from home.”
Although her group had productive planning meetings, Chapin found it difficult to complete the actual writing for the papers because it is easier for her to work with people in person.
“If you see a person in class you can tell them your thoughts, but because we are on Zoom there is no face-to-face interaction,” Chapin said. “It was hard to get to know people, communicate and work well together.”
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