By Khadijah Khogeer
As the Fall semester comes to an end, it’s hard to believe our classes have been on Zoom for nearly seven months. While the online learning experience has pros and cons for everyone, I’ve personally had the hardest time doing group projects remotely. If you’ve always hated the idea of working in a group like I do, then it only gets more complicated on Zoom.
First, there’s the awkward phase of getting assigned to your group. You probably haven’t had many chances to talk one-on-one with each member before unless you’ve been in a breakout room together. That’s when you realize how much of a barrier online learning is to forming meaningful connections with fellow students, and how essential face-to-face contact.
In a physical classroom, you’d typically turn to your classmates and exchange phone numbers or talk about schedules and such after class ends. But in the Zoom world, because everyone leaves the meeting right as class finishes, someone has to make an actual effort to contact everyone to get their phone numbers, whether in the Zoom chat or by email.
Overall, it feels like it takes twice as long to get started because of the logistics of meeting online.
Then, there are the students who ghost the entire group. This is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence in the Learn from Anywhere model, because the only way you can reach someone is online. Usual signs include not answering emails or messages, sometimes even mysteriously disappearing from class.
You’d think people would care enough about their grades to show up or at least do some work. Fortunately, many classes take participation into consideration when grading, and your group can always inform the professor early on if a member isn’t meeting their obligation.
Before COVID-19, the team would likely meet on-campus in the George Sherman Union or Mugar Memorial Library to work on its project. But because we have to be socially distant, most of the group work isn’t really group work now that everyone ends up working alone. It also removes that aspect of bonding with your groupmates through spending long hours working or taking food breaks together.
Working in a group can be efficient when everyone meets at a designated time to focus on the assignment. But now, instead of working in the library or a classroom, everyone is in their dorm or at home, so it’s easier to get distracted.
And then there are those occasional group members who do bother to join the meeting, yet keep their cameras off and never turn their mic on. They’re technically there, but don’t make any efforts to contribute.
Because we can’t be on Zoom calls forever, I notice a lot of the group work ends up being divided so everyone can finish quicker on their own time. While the divide-and-conquer method can be efficient, it also results in a lack of coordination, especially because some students will finish their parts faster than others.
It takes a lot more effort these days to make group projects work. Like many aspects of life under the pandemic, this only makes us further appreciate that once-unrestricted college life on campus.