Chances are good that you're taking medical billing and coding online courses because telecommuting fits your busy lifestyle. Your life may be full of other obligations that keep your hands tied most of the day, such as raising kids or working part-time. Because of this, being assigned group projects might be a challenging task. However, if you know the secrets to success, you might have an easier time coordinating your efforts with your peers.1 Here are some tips to guide you along the way.
Develop a plan.
This tip might almost be universal, as it may apply to a number of different educational scenarios. According to the U.S. News & World Report, creating a plan as soon as the group is established might be essential to the project's success.2 Members should do their best to coordinate conversations where they discuss deadlines for progress and assign responsibilities based on skills. Although there are Web-based tools and programs available on the market, simply using an Excel spreadsheet may help everyone stay focused on the assignment. It could also help track progress, as students could update the spreadsheets with their completed portions of the project and monitor the steps toward completion.
Figure out communication.
USA Today suggested that finding the best means for staying in touch is integral to success, as team members need to be in contact as much as possible.3 After the group has been assembled and duties handed out, determining communication might be your next course of action. Everyone's availability may be different due to school, work, family or any other possible complications that can arise. Because medical billing involves computer work, the Internet may be the best way for members to communicate with one another. Email threads and Facebook messaging groups might work well, in addition to conference calls where everyone discusses his or her own aspect of the assignment. Being able to utilize Web-based applications could eliminate the need for physical group meetings, as members could live far away from one another.The best course of action might be to determine a group leader who takes down everyone's name and contact information and coordinates all communication among the members. This way, if any changes need to be made at the last second, someone can be reached to lend a hand.
A problem that members in a group project might run into is splitting up the tasks and then dropping all communications with little to no checking in. eLearners explained that continuously reviewing tasks and progress is one of the main aspects of achieving success in group work.4 Without it, one or two members could fall behind, causing the remaining students to pick up the slack and, in turn, have their own tasks begin to slip. To avoid this, the group should have weekly – if not biweekly – reviews of progress where everyone checks in. Any problems that students are having should be discussed thoroughly to figure out new paths or solutions to the issues. Additionally, from the start, the tasks should very clearly defined in terms of how they relate to the overall scope of the project as a whole. This might help prevent any problems from cropping up down the road or members not understanding their own particular assignment.
Be open and honest.
Without honest communication, the success of the group could begin to falter. The Arts & Sciences Department at the University of Pittsburgh stated that being kind and honest with one another may be the key to project.5 There might be times where someone's contribution to the project isn't what everyone else had in mind, but that doesn't mean they should be chastised for it. Instead, in a medical billing course online everyone should do his or her best to be nice but open among the group. If someone's portion of the project isn't up to snuff, they should be told that it needs some revision. Fingers should never be pointed at an individual, however, as the group is responsible for earning a good grade, not one person.
Encourage new ideas.
Although you may have picked an outline from the start that you'd like to adhere to, you might be better off remaining open to new ideas, according to the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University.6 The direction or tasks you picked at the start may evolve naturally over the course of the project into something wholly different. Over time, it's natural for some aspects of the assignment to change as new information is uncovered by team members. Encouraging new angles on the subject matter might produce a better product in the end, which could have a positive impact on your medical billing degree.