Lightweight Collaboration for Team Projects
A new term is starting and students around the world are being assigned team projects. A couple of years ago I wrote a post on using Google Sites for team projects and at the start of every term it jumps up to the leaderboard of post hits. Two years is a long time in the world of Internet collaboration, both in terms of the tools and the savvy of the users. Here I'll talk about my personal preferences in hopes that it gives you some ideas about how your team should proceed. Keep in mind that my organization doesn't have an agreed upon collaboration suite and my colleagues come from as many organizations as we have team members. I used to set up a Google Site for each team I was on. Using a Google Site meant we could easily create a discussion board, area for different documents, calendar, formal to-do lists, etc. More recently we are doing our work just using shared documents and have skipped using a full-fledged project webspace. If you need timelines, team member profiles, formal to-do lists -- please consider setting up a Google Site or other formal project webspace (some options listed below, most have a free version). My lightweight collaboration design:
- Shared folder in the "cloud" space of your choice -- helps if your teammates already have accounts on whatever space you choose. My favorites are Google Docs and Dropbox (Dropbox link uses my referral code, thanks) -- thoughts on both below. We use a folder so we don't have to individually share each file.
- Main working document - the report, academic paper, presentation, whatever.
- Editing notes document -- I think of this as a lab notebook for the working document. Most recent entries go at the top of the document (if we have a to-do list, it stays at the very top of the document and then the dated entries follow). First entry (eventually ends up on the bottom) can be contact info/LinkedIn profile links for each team member. Additional entries can be notes from conference calls (including time/date/contact info for next meeting), decisions made about the working document, links to additional material, etc.