E-Learning Online reposts a great tip from Patti Shank, an instructional designer and principal for Learning Peaks, LLC.
To make online collaborations work well, Patti suggests developing a team agreement that clearly articulates the following:
- Will the team have a leader and if so, who will this be, and will this role be rotated?
- How will work be distributed? Who will do what? Who is the designated backup?
- What work style does everyone agree to?
- Any known problems or problematic dates/times that need to be factored in?
- When and how will the team “meet” and communicate with each other? How often?
- How will iteration and version control get handled?
- Who will post team deliverables?
- How will team members provide constructive feedback to each other?
- How will team members handle work that is sub par, incomplete, or not done?
Although designed for class projects, these agreements would work just as well for online work collaborations.
If possible, it's probably a good idea to try to iron these things out at a face-to-face meeting or in a Skype or conference call and then document them in an agreement that you share with everyone. If that's not possible, try turning each question into a wiki page where team members could post their ideas and then the group could edit their way to consensus. Try to find a way that makes people comfortable giving their feedback, particularly if you're a new work team that has never collaborated before.
(NOTE--As you can probably tell, I'm having fun with this online speech bubble tool. I'm afraid you'll have to bear with me for the next few days until I get it out of my system).