Squared Online – lessons from Projects 2 and 3

The problem with managing a blog professionally is that you start to neglect your own blog… oh dear.

I’m now in my last module for Google’s Squared Online course and the last update I did was on lessons learnt from project one, so I’m a bit behind… forgive me.

I’ve now completed four projects – the first one you do on your own and the rest are done in a group. After module 2 and 3 you are put into a different group where you complete module 4 and 5.

In my first group, we didn’t do very well in our first project but we did considerably better in the second, which was all about marketing. The reasons for this is that we could see from the feedback from the first project just exactly what the tutors were expecting and we put more time and effort into the second group project. Don’t get me wrong, we worked hard on our first project but worked harder on our second.

After module 3 I joined my new group and am delighted to say we got an excellent mark in our first project together, which was all about Google Analytics. Unfortunately we had to work over Christmas and New Year, which wasn’t exactly ideal.

So lessons learnt from projects 2 and 3 are:

  • What worked in your first group may not necessarily work in your second because the group dynamics are different. And that’s ok.
  • The more you understand the project brief and what’s expected (and what the tutors are looking for), the better you will do.
  • Listen carefully in your online class as hints to what’s expected in the project are often given during class. You also have the opportunity to ask questions at the end.
  • If you’re not clear, ask. We emailed Support a few times for clarity. Do this before starting any research etc so as to not waste time.
  • Share your score and feedback with your fellow Squares. There is an active private Google Plus group for our cohort and after every project some of us share our scores. With the blessing of my group, I’ve also emailed our report to groups with a low (or lower) score who wanted to see how we had got a high score. Being open to sharing helps facilitate learning so be willing to share.
  • Make the time. This course is very time consuming but it’s only worthwhile if you put in the time and effort to do the pre and post class tasks and your project. In fact, most of what you learn will come from the project – putting into practice what has been covered (sometimes briefly) in class.

The end of the course is fast approaching but in the meantime, there’s still a project to submit so stay tuned for lessons from project 4!

Squared Online project and lessons from working in a virtual group

I have just completed Module Two: Think Commercial of Google’s Squared Online course, where I learnt about the rise of digital and how some businesses are harnessing technology to disrupt traditional businesses (think Airbnb and how they are disrupting travel agents, hotels, classified ads etc). This module was definitely a step-up from the first module in terms of complexity and workload.

Students were put into groups and we had to complete our first group project – to produce an online business idea in the style of a presentation with an audio voice-over. Initially my group had seven people but by the first couple of emails two had dropped out of the course, leaving us with five. One member of our group was rather elusive and didn’t attend the first or second Google Hangout and, to be honest, we had doubts that they were going to contribute at all. Luckily they did make the third hangout and turned out to be a valuable member of the group.

We will only receive our grades for the project by 7 November so I can’t tell you how we did. I do believe we have a strong product and our pitch was really good so fingers crossed for a good mark!

Lessons learnt from working in a virtual group

  • You need someone to step up as project manager to coordinate meetings (via Skype/Hangout or even in person if you are able to).
  • Assign action points after each meeting and summarise what was discussed in a follow-up email.
  • Use collaborative working tools such as Google Drive or even the group forum in the Squared Online campus so that people can work, edit and feedback on the go.
  • Set deadlines for each stage of the process so that there is always a goal to work towards.
  • Allow the team to feedback on the final presentation and give enough time to edit if needed before the project deadline.
  • Be realistic – everyone in our team works full time and has responsibilities outside of their jobs so be realistic about what can be achieved in the time that you have.
  • Quality over aesthetics – everyone wants to have a sleek, professional looking presentation but it’s more important that the business idea is actually viable so spend more time on fine tuning your idea rather than designing slides and graphics.
  • Be polite and be a team player – it’s important that everyone contributes and pulls their weight. Sometimes group members may disagree on something, which is perfectly normal, but the key is to be polite and constructive – not destructive.

This may be an online course but it’s designed to reflect real life, hence why we are put into groups with people who live in different countries. It forces you to find ways of working together and to overcome challenges such as time differences, strong personalities, different cultures and juggling other work and life commitments with meeting a project deadline. Luckily I have a great project group and I’m already looking forward to working with them on the next project