What is Group Work Like in an Online Communications Program?

Author: McKenzy Olson, Online Master of Science in Communications Student

One of the most important and encouraging parts of an online communication graduate program is hearing from your peers/classmates. As an online graduate student each week we are expected to post and respond to discussion boards. These allow for us to see how other classmates interpreted the articles into the question format and respond with constructive criticism, an agreement, or a conflicting statement. This allows thoughts to generate that wouldn’t normally have been thought of before we were able to read and respond to other posts.

In some classes, we are asked to form groups/are assigned group members that we work with to write a paper and presentation. Usually the first way our group communicates is through Engage mail. Once we were familiar with each other’s schedules we decided to branch out. In some of my group work we used Gmail so that we could share posts on the Google Drive. Other groups used social media messaging such as Facebook. We also ventured out with Skype chats, text messages, phone calls, and discussion boards to keep in contact. Each group had specific ways that had worked for them, which allowed me to try new ideas throughout the program.

In my latest group we were able to use the Google Drive and post our ideas into one word document, while each editing sections and commenting on other portions. We then split our Presentation up into separate slides and had one person edit them to look similar, while another person did the voice over. This seemed to work well for us as we worked at our own pace yet set deadlines for each other so things could be proofread before submitting.

Group work has been an outstanding, learning experience for myself in the online graduate communications program. Each student has different schedules so it does take time and commitment to coordinate meetings. I myself worked many evenings which is when other students were available for discussion so we would have to chat early mornings in order to make sure we were on the same page.

We did have an experience where we weren’t hearing from someone for days on end and had reached out to the person on multiple forms of media. We ended up talking to our professor about the incident and were able to move on with our group work without the member. The member was able to submit an individual assignment under the professor’s guidance. This was a challenging decision to make as a group, but each grade reflects upon each of us and in order to receive an outstanding grade each person needs to do their part.

Group work has taught me to be a team player, bounce ideas of each other, and agree to disagree at times. It has worked out in multiple classes as many of our research papers have been noted publish worthy.

Learn More
McKenzy Olson is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Hi, my name is McKenzy Olson, a MS Communications student finishing up my degree in August 2016. I grew up as the oldest of four children in Mohall ND, a town of about 800 people. My family farms 15 miles south of the Canadian border. In the Spring of 2013 I received my Bachelors degree in Public Relations and Advertising from North Dakota State University. I studied abroad that summer then began working as a Marketing Assistant for a Machinery company. In the last year, I moved home to be closer to family where I have been serving and substitute teaching. I am currently applying to continue on for my doctorate as I work to attaining a Ph.D. and attain my goal of becoming a University Professor. I look forward to sharing my life/work experiences on the new student blog.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.