Tips for success in an online program

As an English major, I always had a particular disdain for group work. Every person has his or her own writing style, and no one wants another person to knock it off balance. However, I have been a part of a few successful team projects, and they all occurred when we had similar expectations that we expressed at the project’s start. For example, I was part of a team whose job it was to create an online magazine. During the first meeting, we assigned roles and brainstormed topics. We set goals for our publication that were in line with the project guidelines. Because of this collaboration and careful planning, this was one of the most successful group projects I was a part of during my undergraduate studies.

Dr. Ken Haycock emphasizes the importance of collaboration and planning in his colloquium talk entitled “Working in Teams.” He advises the need for acknowledging goals at a project’s or semester’s start in creating an effective group. As he notes, this makes it much more difficult to fall into the trap of the five common team dysfunctions. These include a lack of trust, “a fear of conflict,” “a lack of commitment,” “avoidance of accountability,” and “inattention to results.” Dr. Haycock’s advice is especially important as I begin this program. In the past, I have been guilty of the first two dysfunctions, so I often take on more than I need or should. First, this is not the right attitude to have. Second, it is virtually impossible when I have a full time job.

As Enid Irwin points out in, “The Monster inside Library School: Student Teams,” attitude is one of the key determining factors for a successful team. I need to evaluate my attitude before I begin a project. Frustration is an easy trap to fall into, so I need to remind myself of the importance of teamwork. I am aware of the reality of it in the workplace since I team teach in a preschool classroom. I love my teaching partner; we have great communication, and we always sit down at the start of the semester and the school week to discuss classroom learning goals.

Since I work full time, I know that organization and time management will be key in my success in this program. Both online assessments stress the importance of these two components. After completing San Diego Community College’s online assignment, I can see that I am on the right path. I am comfortable with technology, and I am extremely self-motivated. My only problem will be making sure that I do not overload myself or work too hard. Although I work every day from 7:30 to 5:00, I keep my evenings free to complete my work. In “Tips for Success,” it expresses a concern for reading and eye fatigue due to online readings. I have a printer at home, so I try to print out as much as I can and read it throughout the day. I also wear reading glasses, so I have taken adequate steps to overcome this.

Overall, I feel prepared for this program. I am aware that it will be difficult and time consuming. I am also aware that I will need to take part in many team projects. I am thankful for the advice of both Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin, as well as the online assessments.


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