Posts Tagged ‘Group Project’

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Team Project – Future Direction

February 27, 2020

How much distance do we need to form an objective opinion? Photo by Tyler van der Hoeven on Unsplash.

As you prepare to leave college with your degree the prospect of seeking a fulfilling career will become increasingly important. Much is being written now about the changing nature of work. As long ago as 2012 Forbes suggested that Job Hopping is the New Normal for Millennials. But, the Guardian newspaper reported that the trade unions in Britain are concerned about the abuses of the gig economy suggesting it results in lower wages. TUC wants clampdown on ‘poverty pay’ in gig economy revealed that almost half of adults aged 25 or over were earning less than the minimum wage.

The World Economic Forum report on The Future of Jobs 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis of trends on an industry-specific and country-specific basis. In the section on Strategic Drivers of New Business Models it concludes that the unfolding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is resulting in a variety of new and emerging jobs while the more traditional job roles are declining. But, there is some good news for you as the Economist reported in 2016 that people working in creative fields are less susceptible to automation in Automation and Anxiety.

Taking a more holistic perspective raises deeper concerns for the future of not just work, but the entire ecosystem of society. French philosopher Bernard Stiegler suggests that the world is heading rapidly towards a dead end thanks to the consumerist model. Speaking in London in 2018 he argued that a radically new approach to shaping our society is required. Rather than allowing capital and technology to dictate we need to bring epistemological, technological, artistic, judicial, social and economic questions together in order to shape the future.

In 1992 the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a Warning to Humanity suggesting that vast human misery would ensue if we did not change how we are impacting the planet. They ‘feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life.’ In 2017 the warning was updated when 15,000 scientists from around the world published World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.

This is a real challenge to you, individually and collectively, as you consider your emergence into society from college. For this project you are asked to consider how you might address the problems facing society while earning a living and living your lives. Do you accept the premise of the World Scientists? Can you see ways in which it is possible to work for a more sustainable engagement with our planet?

The Brief

Your team has been commissioned by a global firm in the communications sector to convince senior leaders that the time has come for change. The Board of the organisation has acknowledged the imminent destruction of our planet and decided that the company needs to lead the world to a new way of working. You have been briefed personally by the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer who have arranged a day-long workshop in mid-May to which all senior executives have been invited. It is intended that the outcome will be a completely new direction for the organisation that is fully sustainable and indeed, will lead the way in rejuvenating the planet and our relationship with our home.

Your task is to kickstart the session with a dynamic, exciting and informative presentation. You must inspire a group of hard-nosed executives who have been ruthlessly successful in exploiting the planet’s resources for the company’s benefit, without any consideration for the consequences, to review their behaviour and plan a new future.

You will work on this project in your groups to make your presentation in an entertaining, informative and lively manner using whatever medium and format you wish as long as it can be stored for later review (e.g. a talk, short film, narration+visuals). Each team will present live in Second Life. The presentation should be no shorter than five minutes and no longer than ten minutes. You are encouraged to use visual, audio or any other aids to support the presentation during which each member of the team must take part.

Each participant must also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post with particular emphasis on your own contribution to the project. (What are you bringing to the group and how does it fit into the team’s work?) Discuss the details of the project and also the issues that arise in working collaboratively online. How easy is it meet up virtually and plan the project? What difficulties arise in development? How easy or difficult is communication? What particular problems arise and how do you deal with them? Focus on the experience rather than writing a ‘correct’ post or having an answer for every difficulty.

Important note: If you use images or sound be mindful of copyright, particularly as presentations will be posted to the module blog.

Presentations should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes in duration.

Your presentation can be made in the TU Dublin campus or any appropriate venue in Second Life selected by the group. Presentations will be delivered in the last class at the end of the semester.

For full details on the Team Project specifications and the assessment criteria see the Assessment Unit.

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Class 3: Teamwork and Collaboration

February 20, 2020

Sitearm Madonna presents the theory of teamwork and collaborative working.

 

John introduced Sitearm Madonna, our guest speaker on the topic of teamwork and collaboration this week. Site began by asking each of us to jot down one experience of poor teamwork and another positive experience of teamwork for later discussion. He then pointed us in the direction of a short video to introduce the topic.

Site also provided this link to his slides.

Projects involving teams go through different stages and each stage requires different energies or has different flavours, as described in the sestet (a poem made o fix lines) displayed in the class – if you haven’t seen it make sure to visit SL and review it along with this summary.

Sitearm’s sestets give a flavour of teamwork dynamics.

 

Teamwork is like breathing: it is a process not a one time event. There are four aspects to understanding how teams function. Firstly, teams have effective members. Each of us brings some commitment and some level of competence. You can compensate for the lack of either in team mates to ensure a positive outcome. Secondly, effective teams develop in stages. Starting with the forming stage where members are getting to know each other and find their place before moving onto what can be the most difficult stage known as storming. This is where everyone is pitching ideas and working out how to proceed. Then teams usually move on the norming stage when the members are beginning to work together comfortably and settle down to performing and getting the project done.

Thirdly, effective teams use best practices. For example, using brainstorming to generate ideas and then agreeing a protocol for deciding how to progress: majority vote, consensus or some other way. You will find that you move back and forth between brainstorming and deciding until the project begins to take shape. When you meet in your teams get into the habit of briefing yourselves. Ask questions like: what are we going to do in this meeting? Then do it. At the end of the meeting leave some time for debriefing: record any decisions made or what happened. Also ask each to member to say what they liked about the meeting and what they wished had happened. This helps your team meetings to become more efficient, effective and enjoyable.

Finally, effective teams share roles: research shows that there are nine key roles for highest performance and success in teamwork. As many teams don’t have nine members it is often necessary for people to take on more than one role. Each of us has a natural affinity to some roles but you can practice taking on new roles also. The disadvantage of this is the discomfort as you move into unfamiliar territory and the extra work involved but the advantage is seen in performance and success on both the personal and team levels.

Collaboration is a technology – proven and time tested with a vast number of academic papers describing the process. Think of it like that and you will find it less daunting.

Always remember to practice your presentation before the final deadline, have backups and expect catastrophe. Prepare for it and you will be successful no matter what happens. Ease the typical headaches of teamwork, whether you are a member or leader, by trying to discover what you can rely on from yourself and others on your team.

We then revisited the experiences Sitearm asked us to jot down at the beginning of the class to compare them against the theory outlined in the talk. This helped to root the theory in practice.

In closing, Sitearm introduced Persona theory. The concept originated in ancient Greek theatre where the actors wore wooden masks with a hole for speaking through. Humans develop multiple personas during our lifetimes – tailored for multiple purposes and taken on in different social situations. An awareness of persona increases your competence in moving from one role on a team to another as necessary.

Finally, John posted the team members for the Team Project. In the next class we will consider the brief for the project and answer any questions you have about working on it for the rest of the semester.

For the rest of the semester you will be working in the following teams.

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Class 9: Presenting your Team Project

November 28, 2019

Building a screen for showing slides in SL.

The class meeting this week reviewed the progress you are making on your projects and considered some of the practicalities of delivering it in Second Life.

There was at least one member of each Team in class (and all members of the Green Dog Team) so John asked for an update on progress. All teams have been meeting and considering what approach to take. The openness of the brief has made it difficult for some to settle on a specific direction but has resulted in repeated readings. John emphasised the importance of constant referral to the brief in any project you are undertaking. It is very easy to drift off-point or become distracted by your personal interests and concerns so re-reading the brief is necessary to keep you on track.

All teams have been attempting to keep working online rather than give in to the temptation to meet in RL! The Green Team have found it very useful to meet in SL while maintaining communication on Facebook and other media. Others have been using tools such as Google docs to support brainstorming and begin drafting the text.

John asked about the locations you might be thinking about for the presentation. One group had found a location that suited their topic but discovered that voice was turned off in the region. Some of you had also heard about the incident last year when the owner of the location selected by one team thought she was under attack when we all arrived suddenly! So, if you are presenting outside the classroom make sure you visit the location during class time in advance and try to get permission from the owner, or at least warn them in advance of you intention.

Most teams seem to be considering either a YouTube video or presenting slides in SL. John suggested that providing a link to YouTube is probably more successful than trying to stream into SL. We can then have a Q&A with the team following the video viewing.

John demonstrated a simple way to present slides in SL by dragging images from your inventory and dropping them onto a panel that acts as a screen. It costs L$10 to upload an image to SL so you each received L$300 (the equivalent of about US$1) to cover this expense. It is important that you give yourselves enough time for a rehearsal to ensure everything works as you expect it too.

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Class 4: Team Project – Future Work

October 17, 2019

The discussion started with students reporting back on the Team meetings you held during the week. Most teams had been able to make contact and commence communicating using a variety of tools. It soon became clear that the different parts of team work demand the use of different sets of tools.

Brief for Team Project – Future Work

Forming and Storming: Finding your team mates and commencing a dialogue is the first hurdle. Second Life’s use of avatars with different names from your real selves resulted in some confusion as you tried to identify each other! Some of you asked me for email addresses to facilitate the first connection. You searched Facebook and other social media platforms for your classmates and, for the most part, did not resort to real world encounters.

The first meetings were arranged and this presented the next challenge. Some of you met in SL, some chatted on Facebook, Skype was mentioned as a useful platform but I am not sure if any team actually used it. The ‘forming’ stage of team work, developing the team and getting to know each other, is actually a social activity and therefore social media apps can be useful for virtual teams. They allow you to find out something about your colleagues and open conversations. As your teams coalesce and working together becomes normal tools such as SL and Skype will support the interaction needed to brainstorm ideas for your project and make progress.

Performing: Although this aspect of team work did not emerge until later in the discussion John asked you to consider how ensure your presentation will be completed in time for delivery. Managing your individual commitments on the project and the overall team success is a very specific activity. You need to ensure that the work is divided fairly among the team members and then ensure that everyone does what is expected. There are many productivity and management apps available to support this. For example, trello.com provides a simple yet effective platform that everyone can access without cost to monitor your commitment and progress.

Production: When it comes to producing your project you will need to create and/or source images, movies, sound recordings and so on. We will review these in later classes. In addition, creating the script is so much easier with online collaborative tools that work in real time. Google Docs allows many people to write and edit simultaneously.

Presentation: Finally, when it comes to the presentation of your project there is a wide range of tools from which to select. YouTube and SlideShare are just two of the most common and we will also look at them in more detail in a later class.

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Finally, we spoke about the project. Everyone had read the brief and was aware of the context. John referred specifically to the assessment criteria for the project noting that of the six, two were for the team and the other four were individual. He asked that you also read the assessment rubric very carefully and review it regularly to ensure you keep on the right track and don’t waste time doing unnecessary work.

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Class 3: Teamwork and Collaboration

October 10, 2019
Sitearm Madonna talks about teamwork

Sitearm Madonna shares his insights on teamwork with the class.

Sitearm Madonna joined the class this week to talk about teamwork and collaboration, both generally and virtually. His experience in the global oil industry and also in virtual worlds has enabled him to formulate a practical approach to collaboration which he supports with references to the vast amount of academic writing on the topic. As the graduate of the module who received one of the highest marks ever awarded he is well-positioned to understand your particular needs in working on the Team Project that will be introduced next week.

His developing interest in musical composition informed the opening of his presentation and he gave us a link to a YouTube video:

Sitearm went on to discuss the stages of a project and the roles required of the team members as the project work progresses towards completion. He asked for examples of good experiences of team work and poor examples and you had some great examples to share. The most common poor experiences were where one member tried to dominate and control the project, not letting others explore their contributions. Sitearm noted that where the dominator also has power and/or authority there is very little the other team members can do and the results of the project are going to fall very far short of the potential. The positive experiences were mostly concerned with successful brainstorming where the team relished new ideas and develop an approach that truly was better than any of the individual team members might have achieved on their own. You also noted that in a well-balanced team each person is supported in contributing according to their skill, leading to a satisfying experience for the whole team.

Sitearm also referred to the theory of persona. Speaking about the different personalities we might present in different social situations (eg, at home, in college, at work) and relating it to the avatars we use in SL, he suggested that the various roles that need to be filled for a successful team can be inhabited by any individual member – they are interchangeable and may be temporary – even though some people might be particularly suited to some roles. He also referred to the Greek origin of the term persona and how it relates to your purpose, asking you to consider ‘where your purposes come from?’ John reminded everyone that we will be picking up on this idea again in Class 16 when we look at virtual identities.

To conclude Sitearm told us about a recent paper he read suggesting that we all have 150 meaningful relationships in our lives. That breaks down into five people in our inner circle (family); 15 good friends; and 50 friends. It expands into 500 acquaintances and 1,500 people we can recognise. [This post was amended in December 2019 to include links to Dunbar’s Number in Wikipedia, Social Network Size in Humans by Hill and Dunbar 2003, and The Social Brain Hypothesis by Dunbar 1998.]

[Note: Sitearm Madonna has subsequently provided this edited video (47 minutes) of his presentation]

After thanking Sitearm for a most stimulating presentation, John directed you to Brightspace where the Team Project groups are listed. Here they are again.

Project Teams

You will work in these teams for the rest of the semester. John will introduce the Team Project in next week’s class.

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Class 8: Presenting your Team Project

April 4, 2019

Again, attendance was disappointing this week. Apart from the first week, which had full attendance, we have had eight attending every week. However, last week only five came to class and this week only six. Both weeks two students gave their apologies. Nevertheless, such poor attendance means that class discussion is not as lively and engaging as it should be and, with only three more classes until the final presentation, it is a cause for concern.

John started by asking the class group if they would mind switching topics between this week and next week. Our guest lecturer is travelling today and therefore unavailable. All agreed so we will postpone the class theme ‘Walking away…?’ until next week. Some of you also admitted to not reading the short story yet so John urged you to ensure you have read it for next week.

We started the class by reviewing the visit to Virtual Ability Island last week. It gave you all a sense of the possibilities that virtual worlds can open up for some people and communities.

John asked for some feedback on the Team Project, in particular, how you were thinking of making the final presentation. Only members of the Blue and Yellow teams were present and most of you seem to be thinking in terms of video. It was not clear if the thinking is to use YouTube or steam directly into SL. John suggested reviewing options such as LinkedIn Slideshare, as was used by Sitearm Madonna in his presentation on teamwork and collaboration in class 3. You can also import images directly into SL and display them much as you would give a PowerPoint presentation IRL. John demonstrated how to make a simple ‘slide viewer’ using the ‘Build’ tool. It costs L$10 to import images to SL so John presented each of you with a budget of L$300 to use if you need to. The exchange rate is approximately L$270 to US$1 so your avatars have not become immediately rich!

Building in SL is normally reserved for premium residents (ie, those who pay a monthly subscription) however, there are lots of public sandboxes where anyone can build. Just remember to save your creation to your Inventory Folder so you can access it at a later time. You can also practice building in the classroom area – just be careful not to delete or change anything there! John reckons he has everything locked but remembers the day he accidentally deleted two of the walls and floor. So, do try out some building – there are links to support information in the reading set for Class 9 Presenting your Team Project.

You should also use some of your Linden dollars to explore the economy in SL. Go and visit some shops and see how the economy works. But, don’t spend everything you have – keep some for your project.

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Team Project – Future Work

March 3, 2019

This photograph was taken from lunar orbit by astronaut Bill Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken”.

The World Economic Forum report on The Future of Jobs 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis of trends on an industry-specific and country-specific basis. In the section on Strategic Drivers of New Business Models it concludes that the unfolding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is resulting in a variety of new and emerging jobs while the more traditional job roles are declining. But, there is some good news for you as the Economist reported in 2016 that people working in creative fields are less susceptible to automation in Automation and Anxiety.

Taking a more holistic perspective raises deeper concerns for the future of not just work, but the entire ecosystem of society. French philosopher Bernard Stiegler suggests that the world is heading rapidly towards a dead end thanks to the consumerist model. Speaking in London in 2018 he argued that a radically new approach to shaping our society is required. Rather than allowing capital and technology to dictate we need to bring epistemological, technological, artistic, judicial, social and economic questions together in order to shape the future.

In 1992 the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a Warning to Humanity suggesting that vast human misery would ensue if we did not change how we are impacting the planet. They ‘feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life.’ Last year the warning was updated when 15,000 scientists from around the world published World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.

This is a real challenge to you, individually and collectively, as you consider your emergence into society from college. For this project you are asked to consider how you might address the problems facing society while earning a living and living your lives. Do you accept the premise of the World Scientists? Can you see ways in which it is possible to work for a more sustainable engagement with our planet?

You will work on this project in your groups to present your findings in an entertaining, informative and lively manner using whatever medium and format you wish as long as it can be stored for later review (e.g. a talk, short film, narration+visuals). Each team will also present its project live in Second Life. The presentation should be no shorter than five minutes and no longer than ten minutes. You are encouraged to use visual, audio or any other aids to support the presentation during which each member of the team must take part.

Each participant must also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post with particular emphasis on your own contribution to the project. (What are you bringing to the group and how does it fit into the team’s work?) Discuss the details of the project and also the issues that arise in working collaboratively online. How easy is it meet up virtually and plan the project? What difficulties arise in development? How easy or difficult is communication? What particular problems arise and how do you deal with them? Focus on the experience rather than writing a ‘correct’ post or having an answer for every difficulty.

For full details on the Team Project specifications and the assessment criteria see the Assessment Unit in the Brightspace VLE.

Important note: If you use images or sound be mindful of copyright, particularly as presentations will be posted to the module blog.

Presentations should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes in duration.

Your presentation can be made in the TU Dublin campus or any appropriate venue in Second Life selected by the group. Presentations will be delivered in the last class at the end of the semester.

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