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Tips for Forming a Successful Online Study Group

By Kay Winders *

Some students who take courses online can begin to feel isolated from their fellow students if they don’t take proactive measures to actively participate in online discussions or to reach out to classmates. Some may just not know where to start – after all, you can’t just hang out after class and casually ask a passerby about this week’s assignment.

Forming an online study group is a great way to get to know online classmates better, as well as learning the material better and getting more support for your studies. However, you will need to make some special considerations when forming an online study group in order to ensure it’s a success. Here are a few

Select Members Carefully

The success of any study group – whether online or off – depends in large part on its members. Each person should be committed to the success of the group and should be able to meet regularly and contribute fully.

Start by reaching out to classmates who seem active in classroom discussions. Or ask a classmate whose work you admire in the class. These students are more likely to be valuable and dependable members of your group, which will bolster its success.

Choose the Right Medium

There are a number of ways for you to hold a virtual meeting online: Video conferencing through Skype or Google chat, discussions through online forums or e-mail, or special programs such as ThinkBinder.

Determine what the best outlet will be to ensure that all members can attend and that you can do the work you need to do. For example, if you choose video conferencing, do all members have a web cam to participate? If you choose a software provider, do all members have the technical capacity to download it?
Make sure you are all on the same page before you make these decisions.

Set a Schedule

Keep your study group focused and make sure you’re prepared for big upcoming tests and projects by setting a schedule. Not only can you ensure that everyone is available when it’s time to study by working out the scheduling conflicts ahead of time, but you can also make sure that everyone is adequately prepared to
make a meaningful contribution to your study session.

Also be sure to set an agenda – or mini schedule – for your individual study sessions. This will keep your discussion on track and help ensure that you meet your goals for the session.

Pre-Load Study Materials

Once you have your schedule set, make sure that members know to pre-load their notes and other materials before the study session begins. That way all members will have access to the same materials so that discussions are facilitated more smoothly. After all, you can’t have a productive conversation when you’re referencing materials that not everyone has.

Create a space online where group members can share this information. There are several possibilities, including Drop Box, Google docs, and similar services. Make sure that everyone has usage rights or the login credentials to access the materials.

Choose a Group Moderator

Finally, make sure that your study sessions stay focused and on schedule by appointing one member to be a group moderator. This person can oversee the agenda you have set for the meeting and ensure that discussions stay on topic and that you meet your goals.

You may consider appointing rotating group moderators to distribute the responsibility so that one person doesn’t feel pressured to do more work. A rotating moderator can also give you the opportunity to figure out which member can do the best job of leading the group.

Forming an online study group is a great way to build relationships with classmates while also strengthening your understanding of the material. When you form your online study group, follow these tips to make sure it’s successful.

Have you formed an online study group? Share your tips for success in the comments!

(*) Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for http://www.badcreditloans.orgwhere she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.

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