I am no stranger to the blogging world or the virtual community world. I’ve been a big supporter of social networks since before they coined the term. Back in my undergraduate days, I was studying Computer/Information Science and had decided to teach myself a new programming language – Coldfusion. It is basically a database web development language. I wanted to get a programming job and the best way to learn something new is to submerge yourself into it. So, I decided to create my own online community in 2000. It was an amazing adventure, that sadly, I no longer maintain due to the expense and time commitment. But I ended up actually selectively recruiting online for new members and I ended up creating a community of amazing people! The moral of the story, building a community takes a lot of time and effort, but if done right, it can be an amazing experience.
That is how I tend to look at the potential of any virtual teams that I participate in. With an open-mind, a positive attitude, and good communication skills. Not all groups work well. The participants have to be willing to communicate and be accountable for their own contribution. I’ve taken many online classes, and have had to be a part of many groups. The successful one’s seem to be where there is good communication, mutual respect and contribution.
This Week’s Experience
My experience this week started out a bit nervewracking due to Blackboard going down during our group formation discussion topics. I had just replied to someone and then the system went down. So it was another 24 hours before I knew whether I was “accepted” into the group or had to find an alternative plan. Luckily, I logged back in once the system came up and was glad to see that I had been warmly welcomed into the group, what a relief. Sometimes I think that’s the most stressful part — waiting to get chosen for the team! Brings up a lot of stressful memories of P.E. class from junior high or something!
I am a big believer in reflection blogging, and the idea of having a group blog sounds like great fun to me (really!). The free technology available to us allows us to create an instant website presence and collaboratively work together to produce content. That’s very exciting.
Challenges with virtual team-building surround the idea of time management and schedules. With a group of four, we all have complex schedules and finding a time where we might all be available could be challenging. Communicating via discussion board posts can be frustrating to have to login and see if there’s been a response, or if a new post has been created somewhere. Communicating via email can be challenging but is generally a bit more immediate.
Another challenge is the expectations of other group members. When working in a team environment you have to assume that everyone is a highly motivated individual who will gladly contribute whatever the team might need. However, in reality, who knows what your fellow classmates lives are comprised of. Perhaps they have their hands full and can only give a limited time to this class.
Take me for instance — 🙂 — I have a pretty crazy life which might come off to some as being a problem when contributing to a group. I have a toddler and a newborn baby at home (shown on the left), plus a full time job, and I’m teaching two classes online. Quite a bit on my plate, leaving limited time to participate in this course. Even though I have these challenges, I hope that I am seen as a dedicated team member who contributes positively to the group!
So, back to my experiences this week — so far I’m going along with the idea that we’re all going to put our best effort out there and have a wildly successful group! Right? Right!
I have a tendency to be long winded once I get to reflective writing, so I apologize for rambling on.