Coming into college, I’ve never been a fan of group-work. Every arranged meeting date was never upheld, you were never fully satisfied with the finished product, and there was always that one member whose involvement with the group included nothing more than the display of his or her name on the final composition. My experience with group work in college thus far has drastically changed my opinions however, making me approach group assignments with a neutral outlook.
I believe this change in my attitude regarding group work is due to the increased role of technology in our lives, which has fostered faster and easier means of communication. Even within the mere past five years, students of our contemporary society have witnessed a significant proliferation of technology affecting society in a very comprehensive way. Through the means of communication made possible by technology, organizing group work has become considerably easier and tolerable.
The technological expansion that is occurring inadvertently alleviates or altogether eliminates many of the sources of conflict that Phillip C. Kolin addresses in “Successful Writing at Work”. For instance, due to the minuscule amount of effort required to contact either a single group member or the group as a whole, a group member is less likely to be deterred from actively participate. Whereas if sharing an idea were more difficult logistically, individual member’s may forgo the process, leaving their idea undisclosed. The accessible nature of communication, coupled with the assurance that any messages will be typically received within the next hour or the next 24 at most, additionally reduces the likeliness of individual group members to miss important deadlines. With an established system of accountability, group members could easily send friendly reminders to each other to keep the group as a whole on schedule, as each member probably has his or her own work load that does not entirely revolve around this one assignment.
Thus, regardless of the amount of criticism that has recently begun to arise regarding the negative effects of cell-phones (particularly their tendencies to make us increasingly antisocial beings), they do offer us with a lot of rather unacknowledged benefits that serve to make many elements of our life much simpler.