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SMU Libraries

Online Learning Is Different! Top 5 Hacks: #3 Online Collaboration

This guide provides practical tips for you to get ready for online learning in Term 1.

At a Glance

Although we are moving our learning online, it is still crucial for us to continue forging connections with our learning community, and this time, virtually. Online collaboration may sound new and daunting to you, but be reassured that everything would be as it should! Read on to find out how you can succeed in engaging and connecting with your professors and peers in your online learning journey ahead.

Give Them a Read!

Recommended Tools

Here are some platforms that you can use to collaborate and stay connected with your learning community virtually:

1. Microsoft Teams (Highly Recommended!)

Microsoft Teams is your hub for teamwork. Whether it's a team of 10 or 10,000, you can chat, meet, call and collaborate from anywhere. In teams, you can access, share and edit on Words doc, Powerpoint and Excel files in real-time. 

Get a quick start on Microsoft Teams! Use it for your group discussions and collaboration. Got a question? This FAQ on Microsoft Teams may help!

2. Zoom

You will use Zoom quite often for attending your classes or other webinars! Campus-wide licensed Zoom accounts are available to you, through which you can host a meeting of up to 300 participants.

Check out this Zoom Quick Guide for Students! For Zoom common troubleshooting, click here.

3. WebEx

You will use WebEx quite often for attending your classes or other webinars! Please note that students do not have licensed accounts for WebEx, thus you would not be able to start a meeting with others on WebEx.

Check out this WebEx Student Quick Guide! For WebEx common troubleshooting, click here

Tips for Effective Online Collaboration

Learning online is a fantastic way to increase your knowledge and skills in a flexible environment. However, when it comes to virtual tasks that require online collaboration, it is easy to disconnect with your peers. Read on for a few tips to help you along the way in your online collaboration journey!

1. Proactively interact with your learning peers

  • Take the first step to introduce yourself to your peers.
  • Participate in discussion forums by answering questions posted by your professors and responding to your peers' posts.

2. Connect and communicate with your peers

  • Create virtual study groups with online collaboration tools (recommended below!).
  • Create a social network group to connect and share interests with your classmates.
  • Stay in touch with everyone and periodically check in with one another.

3. Organise work and responsibilities

  • Plan your projects. Lay out a project plan that clearly defines each task.
  • Break down projects into smaller tasks and assign tasks according to member's strengths. 
  • Set project timelines and regularly hold meetings to assess the project development cycle.

Tired of Reading? Watch These Videos!

Find out how to make the most of your student community and opportunities for social learning!

Experts believe that studying in groups or pairs can be more effective and productive than studying in pairs! Hence, you can create your own community by:

  • Joining an online forum
  • Starting a group or online forum to gather your peers
  • Using online tools to communicate
  • Creating structure and rules in your community to facilitate effective learning

Don't be so defensive! Jim Tamm shares years of experience in getting out of the red zone and cultivating a "green zone" attitude.

Being defensive turns out to be the single greatest inhibitor to true collaboration. How should you cultivate a "green zone" attitude, also known as a collaborative attitude?

  • Start paying attention to your own specific outward signs of defensiveness. For example, breathing becoming faster, talking gets louder and feeling misunderstood. This can serve as an early warning system before you start taking action. 
  • Acknowledge that you are getting defensive.
  • Slow down by taking deep breaths or walks if needed.
  • Check your negative self-talk and turn it into something positive.
  • Create an action plan and practice it.
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