Teaching Tip: Online Project Agreements

2/20/2007 8:00:00 AM

Topic: Online Project Agreements
Overview: "When online students work on assignments in collaborative teams, conflicts inevitably arise," says Patti Shank, an instructional designer and principal of Learning Peaks, LLC. That's why each team should draft an agreement that addresses potential conflicts up front.

Shank recommended that team agreements answer the following questions:

  1. Will the team have a leader and if so, who will this be, and will this role be rotated?
  2. How will work be distributed? Who will do what? Who is the designated backup?
  3. What work style does everyone agree to?
  4. Any known problems or problematic dates/times that need to be factored in?
  5. When and how will the team "meet" and communicate with each other? How often?
  6. How will iteration and version control get handled?
  7. Who will post team deliverables?
  8. How will team members provide constructive feedback to each other?
  9. How will team members handle work that is sub par, incomplete, or not done?

Shank also recommended that instructors offer feedback on these agreements, highlighting where they are too general or too soft. Instructors should ask for revisions until the agreements address each concern effectively, Shank advised.

"Until everyone gets an A on this assignment, it's not done," she said.

[Editor's Note: These tips could also apply to face-to-face group projects.]

Source: From February 15 online seminar "How to Make Online Collaboration Work Well," Magna Publications.

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