Week 2 reading

Group tasks

Teams have tasks, jobs to get done. It may be helpful to you to think about who in your group is going to do what. Here are some common jobs (Gibbs 1994). Feel free to describe different ones for your group. Feel free to allocate the roles as you see fit: rotate them, share them, whatever. But it would be best not to ignore them entirely!

Someone to clarify objectives, set agendas, summarise discussions and decisions.
Secretary/note taker
More important in face-to-face teams than online ones, for obvious reasons. Still, there are aspects of the role that need to get done: if this person isn’t sure what has been decided, he/she will ask: ‘Before we go on to the next thing, can I be clear exactly what we have decided to do?’
Progress chaser
The name is the game. This person keeps the team on task and to schedule.
Time keeper
Important in face-to-face meetings, but in asynchronous discussions? Not really. Unless of course there are lots of interdependent sub-tasks, in which case someone has to be watching to make sure that individuals and sub-groups meet their schedules.

Finally, I can’t resist adding one of my own, because it’s the one role that is glaringly absent from this list and yet is absolutely vital for effective online collaboration. It’s a job for everyone, but someone needs to make sure they all do it:

Back patter
Online activity needs acknowledgement. No one can see that you noticed their work, approvingly. People need an online pat on the back to acknowledge their work. Always!


Gibbs, G. (1994). Learning in teams: a student guide. Oxford, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.