Online Group Projects Defeat the Purpose of Online Classes

Damielys Duarte/Staff Writer

We have all found ourselves groaning behind our professor’s back as they gleefully assign a group project. While coordinating in person is difficult enough, the obstacles rise to a whole other level when partners have to work in conjunction virtually.

FIU Online was created for non-traditional students who do not have the time to physically attend class but wish to pursue a post-secondary degree. Such students usually work full time and have irregular schedules, which makes it extremely difficult to work alongside another busy individual. With that in mind, professors should not require online students to complete group assignments.

This personally occurred to me when I was taking my third semester online. Three of my five classes assigned group projects and we only had a week to choose a semester-long companion based on the images and conversations in our class group chats. 

With partners and groups assembled, our communication relied on Whatsapp and Google Docs. But as time progressed, I realized that certain individuals were not participating in group assignments and waiting until the last minute for deadlines—the typical group work side effects, except with the additional obstacle of anonymity. Members could choose to ignore your text or message, which is more difficult in a traditional setting where you’re forced to come face-to-face with your team at one point or another.

I had to find ways to determine who did what work by checking the Google Docs history, assigning color codes and highlighting each individual’s work. It revealed what I had known all along—only 2 out of 5 people did any work. And while in this specific class we could grade our peers when submitting the assignment, that is not the case for other classes.

In another class, my partner waited until the last minute to do her share, despite my attempts at explaining the fact that I would need the work done earlier due to my busy schedule. When I confronted my professor about this, I was discouraged from attempting the assignment on my own.

It was frustrating that the professor preferred that I stay with my partner than do the work peacefully on my own time, which would have improved the quality. Teachers need to understand that group work isn’t always the best work, especially for online classes. It should be optional and not mandatory for the course.

Due to the independent nature of online classes, group work should be an option for certain classes and individuals who believe they do not have the time for a partner can complete the assignments on their own. After all, the concept of online education was created for the individual who does not mind the loss of the traditional collegiate social experience.

Featured photo by Rawpixel Ltd on Flickr.


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