This week task was to analyse of the group work. Task of my group was to write chapter about Cultural Differences in a Web-Course and how to deal with different understandings about concepts and a teacher should
My group has members from Finland Norway and Estonia. The main object around what the activities are done is the task to write an chapter in wiki environment. For that for my group the main instruments are wiki, Skype, Google docs, wiki chat, e-mails, course blogs.
In the beginning of the group work, it took a while to realize how to organize the role and task division within the group and what previous knowledge and understanding was provided by the tutors of each country. So because of that it wasn’t clear to all how much time and effort should be invested and it took a time to have the common understanding and natural task division within the group.
So as Kaptelinin & Nardi (2006) provide in the Activity Checklist “division of labor, including synchronous and synchronous distribution of work between different locations” (page 274) was something that took time in the beginning of the group work although it could have been better to invest the time on working the the task.
But as roles were more concrete and the task were divided then the situation was a bit better. Although that was the point then it was obvious that people participating are with different backgrounds therefore might have a different perspective on goals, deadlines and process of the task. So not all the group members are on the same level with commitments and responsibilities. Although it can be the cause of the conflict, for our group it was fine as in this case group was able to work well even if not all can participate 100%. But the issue here is in my opinion because of using online environments as for the Estonian group members we understood that more work can be done meeting in a person then using the Skype for communication and actually writing collaboratively being physically in the same room.
Access and knowledge about the tools is one issue as well. Although wiki is good environment to write collaboratively, it did not fit with the wish to solve the task in the creative way as it already had restrictions.
As participants from different universities had their competence on the different level and people could freely contribute in the area they are good at the work of the group had a good support. The diversity of the group is very important although I think as participants could not really communicate that much and get to know each other more then the real capability of the group and it’s members was not discovered.
For the improvement I would suggest:
- To be really clear and provide students with same or similar information of the task so the time would not be spent on “being on the same page” within the group.
- The wiki could have more possibilities to design the text in an attractive way.
- The possible roles of the group can be defined earlier to save the time for the group to understand the group dynamics.
- And to manage tasks and following the process of the group work it would be good to share within the group similar overview, maybe some project management tool would be useful here. Just to have the same understanding and view of the process of work within the group so the briefing with some online communication tool is not needed always, especially then there is the finding the suitable time for all issue.