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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Choosing communication tools


When doing a group project, the first step is to set expectations around how and when you and your team members will communicate. It is important to have clear channels of communication, especially when working online, as it will make the group-work process more productive and efficient.

Getting started

Once you and your group members have introduced yourselves, it’s time to select the tools your group will use to stay connected.

There are many different tools to choose from. Your group might decide to use just one or multiple communication tools during your project. This section will take you through some of the tools you might like to use.

Instant messaging applications

E.g. WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, SMS


  • Instant messaging allows for efficient real-time communication.
  • Messages can be sent from anywhere at any time - only a smartphone is needed.
  • Messaging apps offer multiple forms of communication, such as text messages, voice and video chat, and image sharing.

Things to consider:

  • Not all students have the same messaging apps.
  • Not everyone can, or wants to, put apps on their phone.
  • Informal communication can become chatty and unfocused.
  • Long message threads with many replies make it easy to miss messages.

Virtual meeting tools

E.g. Collaborate Ultra (RMIT), Teams, Zoom, Skype


  • Real-time collaboration often feels more social and collaborative.
  • Screen-sharing, and file sharing functions are easy to use.
  • Meetings can be recorded for those who can’t attend.
  • Face-to-face communication can help avoid miscommunication.

Things to consider:

  • Good internet connection, a microphone and ideally a webcam are necessary.
  • Apps may use a lot of data on smartphones.
  • Group members may be in different time zones and not able to meet at the same time.
  • Not all platforms are free (RMIT students have free access to Collaborate Ultra and Microsoft Teams).


E.g. Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo!Mail


  • Emails can be written and sent at any time, so there is no need for everyone to be online.
  • Email accounts are free, and all students have an RMIT student email.
  • Email does not use a large amount of data or bandwidth.
  • Information is kept in one location and can be found later if necessary.

Things to consider:

  • Some people might take longer to reply than others as it is not real-time communication.
  • Email threads can become long and jumbled.
  • Emails might go into the wrong folder and people who receive many emails may miss important group messages.
  • Many people don’t check their university email as frequently as other forms of communication.

Unit discussion board

RMIT: Canvas


  • Posts can be written at any time, so there is no need for everyone to be online.
  • RMIT students have access to the unit discussion boards on Canvas.
  • Everything is in one place and can be found and referred to easily by all group members.
  • Files and images can be linked or embedded.

Things to consider:

  • Not everyone checks the discussion boards frequently, so it might take some time for people to respond to posts.
  • People might feel self-conscious about posting their work if all students in the unit have access to the thread.
  • Group work carried out purely over a discussion board might not feel as collaborative as other tools, so try to use at least one real-time tool.

Social media

E.g. Facebook, LinkedIn


  • Many students are frequently on social media applications, which will allow for prompt responses.
  • Social media can be accessed from both personal computers and smartphones.
  • Social media applications allow the sharing of multimedia and the option of video calls.
  • Communicating over social media can break down barriers and help group members become more comfortable with each other.

Things to consider:

  • Not everyone wants to use social media accounts or add new acquaintances to their accounts.
  • Not everyone has access to all social media accounts.
  • Informal communication can become chatty and unfocused.
  • Privacy settings should be checked to ensure groups are not public.

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