To avoid in-person student meetings amid the coronavirus pandemic, many professors chose to replace team projects with individual assignments or essays. However, some went ahead with assigning team projects to students. Student responses to the changes in team projects method have been mixed. While some have said that they had difficulty communicating online, others have indicated that convenience was a notable merit.
Many students used platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or KakaoTalk to meet online and share opinions.
Kim Kyu-ri, a sophomore in the Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Division, shared her thoughts regarding online team projects.
“With in-person group meetings, everyone tried to show up on time,” Kim said. “But with online team projects, many people tended to be late and some were clearly not present.”
Kim thinks easy access to messenger platforms made students consider less about punctuality.
“Even though it was a group project, there were people in every lecture who did not show up on time and did not take part,” Kim further commented. “This discourages those who are willing to participate eagerly in the coursework and eventually leads to poorly executed group projects. I am worried that this will result in bad grades.”
She pointed out another difficulty of online team projects, especially in lectures that use computer programs. In an in-person environment, Kim was able to show her laptop to teammates sitting next to her. This has become difficult as face-to-face meetings have become rare.
“In some cases, I have to show and explain the overall script of the coding outcome,” Kim explained. “Before, I could just scroll my screen and briefly explain what I did to the people next to me, but now I have to take screenshots of my screen bit by bit and send those photos along with an explanation via a messenger program.”
Kim stated she and her colleagues now use Zoom’s screen-sharing feature to facilitate the discussion, but she maintained that online group meetings still hinder the quality of assignments.
On the other hand, Kim Min-sol, a junior majoring in Korean Language and Literature, commented that it was more convenient to do team projects online.
“The most convenient part is that we don’t have to meet in person, which saves a lot of time,” Kim stated. “It normally took more than 40 minutes for me to go to school to meet my team members, but now I can meet them online at home.”
According to Kim, being able to participate in team projects from anywhere at any time was the most efficient aspect of online group assignments. She said that people seemed to work harder to finish the group assignments efficiently as they knew that there were limitations in communication.
Kim further expressed that it was easier for her to present the projects to the class since all she had to do was to share her screen online. Moreover, the burden of public speaking decreased for her.
“Doing team projects online certainly has its own merits,” Kim said. “However, I agree with what other students say in that there are more active discussions when we meet in person. Considering all the possible situations, it would have been better if the professors had chosen not to give any team projects in the first place.”
There are some professors who decided to remove team projects this semester. Min Ja-young, who is teaching an elective course Modern and Postmodern Culture, changed the team discussion that was scheduled in mid-June to a written assignment.
“I thought immediate interactions and questions would be impossible in case of online debate,” Min commented. “So, I decided to give a paper assignment instead for the students to develop deeper thoughts on the works I dealt in class.”
She also decided to utilize the discussion board function on the CyberCampus to replace the discussions that were supposed to be held in regular class.
“At first, I was surprised to see the in-depth discussion that students posted on the board,” Min stated. “It was beyond my expectations. However, I still think that there are weaknesses in online discussions since it reduces opportunities to listen to what other people think and hinders interaction between them.”