Teamwork is a common practice nowadays in the educational system. There are different strategies for collaborative work in virtual environments to obtain excellent results and assist in the students’ learning process. Understanding how a team works, selecting the members, and getting excellent results is essential for the team to reach an outstanding result.
Teamwork or collaborative work is founded in the effort of all team members sharing the same task and objectives, either in face-to-face or online classes. Working in teams is frequently misunderstood by some students doing all the work or high-performance students helping low-performance students. The essence of collaborative work is interactive learning, sharing of ideas, and learning styles, constructing concepts together, and reaching conclusions from different points of view. It is not an easy task, but one that can be master with practice and the knowledge of its elements and benefits can reach outstanding results in the learning process.
Many theories support that collaborative learning is more effective and active since it allows students to build their knowledge through interaction and collective learning. Online learning also promotes teamwork to develop vital skills for students’ professional growth, providing endless spaces and tools to work online and develop their projects. The recent growth of virtual platforms and globalization equally demands future professionals to perform in multicultural teams complementing ideas and reaching international agreements.
Knowing the team’s practical function is relevant to ensure a competent job, but even more in virtual classrooms. The professor must know well his students to form the teams. He must help students recognize their weaknesses and strengths to complement them inside the team. The team members must establish a ground for respect, tolerance, and communication. It is vital to understand than from the formation of the team, and throughout the production, students will go through different stages of adaptation and crises. The professor must guide them through this process and follow up on the agreements reached. The efforts will go towards the team members’ well-being and the best result possible for the project with the assistance of technology and online tools. They will make agreements, do negotiations, decide, adapt, and support to go towards the common goal. This process is part of the students’ formation. It will become their greatest strength at the end of the learning process because the knowledge built among all and the skill to optimize the virtual space will become as significant as the soft skills acquired along with the collaborative work. Also read, What have we learned from homeschooling during the pandemic?
Emotional intelligence and social-emotional skills play an essential role in teamwork. In online learning, student’s communication and interaction must be as effective as possible. Students must be trained in an online environment to develop soft skills, which is to relate with other people from multicultural backgrounds assertively. They will learn to deal with their emotions and conduct, develop empathy, solve conflicts correctly, and make responsible decisions. After practice and mastery of these skills, the students will become a vital part of the team and a team player. Being a team player is an invaluable characteristic for a future professional. The teacher will continuously monitor the team in the virtual platforms where they leave evidence of their learning process. Such skills, once acquired, do not limit there are of practice to the academic or professional environment, but become life skills.
Students must receive training to produce synergy in their team and to actively and coordinate all team members in cooperation and equality. It does not mean that there will be different ideas, but they will find a shared space to converge for the project’s interest. Communication in virtual classrooms will take place in meetings, video conferences, discussion rooms, among others. Thus, they must learn to share their ideas respectfully and assertively. Moreover, previous knowledge, customs, and cultural background will play a vital role in the team members. They will enrich work and results. Teamwork provides students with a bound to the class and the group in online environments. The team allows students to feel part of the class regardless of the distance.
Working in teams is not the same practice as 20 years ago. It has changed and has moved to online education. Thus, it has proved its effectiveness as an intense and relevant experience in the learning process. All parts of the process, including the team members’ selection, knowing the changes the team will go through, and the success they will reach, are a significant contribution to their academic, professional, and personal growth.