I have had many opportunities to work on virtual group projects. As with any type of group work, there are advantages and challenges with this kind of collaborative format.
One major advantage of being able to collaborate virtually is that you don't need to find a physical space that is convenient for everyone to meet in. Each member of the team has the convenience of being able to work from home or some other place that works well for them. Another advantage is that individual members of the team can usually do work on their own time instead of waiting for a time that works well for everybody.
Some disadvantages that I have encountered center around the division of labor. It is important that the work is divided up equitably so that everyone is pitching in their fair share. From the start, I would recommend that everyone has a clearly specified set of tasks to complete and that no one person is doing more or less than their fair share of the labor.
Communication is also an issue. These projects work best if there is a single platform for communication (an email chain, Slack, Messenger, etc.) that everyone agrees to use. Not only does this mean that everyone is included in the conversation, but it also creates a record of the discussions which can prove useful if someone needs to clear up any later confusion.
As an instructor in several online classes, I can tell you that group projects can be challenging. Without face to face communication, there are often misunderstandings. Also, there are sometimes people who just kind of drop out of sight. The keys to success are communication and clear expectations. And patience!
I agree with the post above on how difficult working in a group can be. From division of labor to communication between members, being a part of the team can be stressful and demanding.
My first team experience was being in a group of 7 very distinct individuals. We weren't initially given any criteria or guidelines that we would be graded upon. Although we roughly divided up the assignment and tried to carry out the given parts individually, everything became incoherence once put together. That's when we realized the significance of team communication and sat down to figure out what we have been doing wrong. The issues we came up with were lack of communication, unclear division of work and most importantly the missing leader. One of our group members was voted to take charge and be responsible for putting everyone's parts togehter. The leadership made the assignment much easier and we all successfully completed the work.
I've been a on a few virtual group projects and there were challenging to say the least. In retrospect, there were three difficulties.
First, since there is little relationship at times and no physically meetings, it is hard to gauge how good people are at what they are supposed to do. For this reason, the work gets hindered, if the person is not good. Moroever, if all contribute to some degree, the work is uneven in terms of quality, which can be annoying.
Second, since there is no physical office space, all people work at different speeds. Some were quicker than other. So, when I finished my portion, others were still working, which I found to be a challenge.
Finally, some people do not take virtual group projects all that seriously. For this reason it is not uncommon that one person does most of the work.