Posts Tagged ‘Virtual Collaboration Projects’

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Class 11: Penultimate

May 12, 2016

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The final class before students present their group project work next week agreed to a slightly later start time of 8.30 pm on May 19th. John gave students a notecard with details of how to prepare slides for the presentation.

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If you have any questions about the project please post them to the Facebook group and John will endeavour to answer as soon as possible.

Remember that the blogs will be due for assessment next week also. Make sure you complete all the required posts and follow the guidelines and feedback you have been given throughout the module. The deadline for completing your blog is midnight Friday 20th May – they will be assessed sometime after that.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: 5 Steps to Build a Productive and Tight Knit Remote Team.
  2. Write the tenth post: to your blog after you have made your presentation next week. Describe how you think the presentation succeeded and where it could have been better. Comment on what you learnt about online collaborative working.
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Class 10: Project review

May 5, 2016

Class started with a discussion about the feedback on student blogs. We had some clarification on what ‘writing more reflectively and critically’ means. Earlier this month John suggested you read the advice given to a previous class: Blog posts and group work. If you haven’t already read it you should do so now.

John asked each group to provide an update on how the group project work is progressing. It seems that it hasn’t really gotten going properly yet. Nobody took the opportunity to meet in Second Life during last week’s class time. Some participants have been discussing the project in Facebook and both groups are planning to meet over the weekend to begin work. Following a discussion about the topic of the project where it became clear that students had not really considered the scope of the project John suggested that an extension of the presentation date by a week (from 12 May to 19 May) might be a good idea – it is justified on the basis that last week’s class was cancelled. It was agreed that students will post to Facebook on Monday giving their preference regarding the presentation date.

John also proposed that the presentations be delivered where we meet for class using the slide viewer there. Each group can use up to 10 slides in its presentation.

There was a general discussion on the topic of the project: what our workplaces are likely to look like in 2050. Using McLuhan’s suggestion that we consider how technology influences behaviour we pondered growth of online and virtual systems. History is always a good jumping off point. Would anyone in pre-industrial Europe have expected industrialisation to result in unemployment? It would probably have been inconceivable to people who starved if they didn’t work. The expectation that replacing workers with machines would lead to a golden age of leisure for all did not come to pass either. How likely is it that people will still be going to offices and factories for work by 2050? These questions should form the start of the project brainstorming exercise. Teams are expected to be asking the right questions rather than producing the right answers. Use the readings set throughout the module to inform your thinking and make sure you refer to it in your presentation.

John also reminded you of the importance of reflecting on your teamwork in the context of the talk on team work last month and writing up your thoughts in your blog.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Meet: in your groups to plan your approach to the project, decide on what aspect of the project you will explore, identify the individual tasks and prepare an outline schedule (this work was to have been done for today’s class but wasn’t).
  2. Write the ninth post: to your blog describing how your team considered the Form-Storm-Norm-Perform aspects of team work and how you addressed the various team roles.
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Class 9: Team work

April 21, 2016

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For online collaboration to lead to successful outcomes it is useful to have an understanding of how teams function. We considered the under-lying factors that influence groups and teams in real life and discussed how they might apply in the online environment. Then we examined the various roles different members of the team might play over the life-cycle of a project. You can review Sitearm Madonna’s tips and tools for online virtual collaboration and team working.

John reminded everyone of the importance of reading the project brief carefully and also paying particular attention to the assessment criteria. There is no value in working hard on something that is not required – ensure your focus is sharp and your effort is actually contributing to the required outcome. You should re-read both the brief and the assessment criteria regularly throughout the project to ensure you remain on target.

From here on your blog posts will concentrate on the development of your team and the project, referring to the principles and guidelines outlined in the class. Reflect on how these play out in reality as you work together – describe what works well for you and also the difficulties and problems you encounter and how you resolve them. Pay particular attention to  what you are learning, noting how you might do things more efficiently and effectively in any future team work. Ensure you document your contribution to the project.

As there is no formal class next week John advised that you use the time to meet in your groups in SL and get a good start to the project. You all know how difficult it can be to arrange a suitable time to meet outside of class (everyone has lots of commitments) so use this opportunity to kick start your project and settle on a working methodology that suits the members of your team. John will arrange an alternative class time through now the Facebook group.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Meet: in your groups to plan your approach to the project, decide on what aspect of the project you will explore, identify the individual tasks and prepare an outline schedule that will see you ready to present your work on May 12th.
  2. Write the eighth post: to your blog describing this meeting, your contribution and your team plan.
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Class 8: Project briefing

April 14, 2016

John gave a detailed briefing on the group project explaining how it should be approached and delivered. The key deliverable is a ten minute presentation but the purpose of the project is to give you a chance to experience working collaboratively online: including the difficulty of arranging to meet; the challenge of holding useful discussion; dividing the workload and so on.

While this aspect of the experience must be presented as part of the final project you are also asked to reflect on the weekly experience in your blog from now on. This will ensure that you receive a fair assessment of your contribution and will not be let down if team mates do not deliver as expected. You will be assessed on your contribution to the project, not simply the overall success of the final presentation.

The presentation in the final class should be delivered vocally (if anyone has problems with their voice in SL let me know) but should have a text backup using notecards. Second Life has a rich set of tools for including images, sound, movies and animation to support your talk. John demonstrated the most simple way of showing images by dragging them from your inventory to a ‘screen’ made from a simple panel. You can practice this in any number of public sandboxes located around SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the seventh post: to your blog describing how your group might meet online regularly to develop the project. Discuss the different platforms available, their pros and cons for this work; and how comfortable you think you would be with them.
  2. Meet with your team: to begin discussing your response to the project brief.
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Class 6: Making content

March 10, 2016

A very small class (only two participants) made discussion a little thinner than usual but Stinkylink and Rebeccahellohowru contributed valiantly to ensure a lively(ish) session, which Dudley Dreamscape joined later.

The task of buying clothing and trying to dress your avatars proved less easy than anticipated. Some ended up shirtless with floating objects they were unable to remove, or wearing unexpected items of clothing. However, engaging with the economy of SL gave an insight into the level of engagement by residents. Nevertheless, I get a strong sense that the participants this semester are somewhat bemused by SL and cannot really understand why anybody would choose to spend time in-world by choice. One participant described SL as a chatroom with pictures. I have frequently used the same descriptor and assumed the pictures were a useful addition to communication but, the question now seems to be: do the pictures serve any useful purpose? After all, the visual quality of SL has not seen a step change since its inception in the early 2000s. It remains cartoonish and very crude when compared with similar online worlds created for gaming (World of Warcraft, Call of Duty etc). The most significant issue may well prove to be the mediation by an avatar. Until we can insert ourselves directly into the virtual world the sense of distance may continue to be off-putting to the average person.

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Also, it seems that the plethora of communication media such as WhatsApp, Whisper, Yik Yak, Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat that facilitate text, pic and video sharing are becoming integral to social engagement. Online and virtual tools are no longer used primarily to bridge geographic distance but are part of normal everyday interaction. Many of these apps are marketed on the premise of impermanence – claiming that the content is deleted or disappears within a certain timeframe. While this replicates real life conversation giving a sense of anonymity and safety to the user it should be treated with caution.

We also discussed how participants are getting on with their blogs and I gave feedback on the week four assessment reminding you to ensure you are up to date with your posts. The next assessment point is after week eight so you have time to catch up if necessary. This led to a discussion about content creation informed by Axel Bruns’ lecture From Prosumer to Produser that was set for viewing last week. If you missed the class and have not read it please do so before the next class.

Finally, the brief for the group project has been posted to the blog. Please read it and if you have any questions post them to the Facebook group discussion and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? by Mark Lederman.
  2. Write the sixth post: to your blog reflecting on your own use of online social media.
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Group project: 21st Century workplace

March 10, 2016

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The project is to predict and describe the workplace in 2050. You will need to imagine how you will be working by the middle of the 21st Century. Will people still gather in physical offices or is it more likely that we will stay at home and work online? How will technological developments influence the way in which we work? What kinds of jobs will still need people to meet in a physical location?

Each team will be required to describe an imagined workplace in 2050 in a ten minute presentation in SL. The presentation should be supported with visuals as appropriate and each team member must present part of the project.

The presentation should also discuss the experience of the team members working collaboratively online. Describe the issues that arose during the preparation of the presentation: how easy it was to meet up online? what difficulties arose around clear communication and arriving at agreement? how did you plan? how did you resolve problems?

See page 6 Module assessment for assessment criteria applying to this project.

Project presentations will be made on Thursday 12th May 2016 at 8.00 pm.

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Class 3: Exploring SL

February 18, 2016

This week saw better attendance than last week and all participants shared links to their blogs. John will review them and post comments (where possible, tumblr and blogger don’t seem to allow this). There was a discussion about the best way to communicate which led to the setting up of a Facebook group for the class. This will be the main method of communication outside of SL.

We got reports from everyone about their experiences exploring Second Life. The reaction was mixed with the exercise throwing up some of the difficulties interacting with the virtual world and its residents. We will talk about interacting with other avatars next week, when everyone will have had an opportunity to try it out!

Not everyone had read the assigned text so John reminded the class of the importance of doing so. If not, we will break off to read it during class and then run on late. It is necessary to have read the text so that an informed discussion can be had. We did go on to talk about how virtual teams might work. Everyone joined in and gave examples from their own experience. The general view is that it is more difficult to build and maintain teams that do not meet in real life. John suggested that participants keep an eye on this aspect of their experience over the semester and review their opinions at the end to see if they have changed in any way.

Because of attendance a slight rearrangement of groups will be needed. John will post the updated group members to the Facebook group.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: SL and find at least two different strangers to talk to. Find out what you can about their second life; what they do in SL; why they spend time here; what interests they have; and so on. Remember that in SL there is no need to be shy – it is not unusual to approach other residents and start a conversation.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Read: The truth doesn’t seem to matter very much in UCD revenge porn saga an opinion piece in The Irish Times that reveals the fear and uncertainty surrounding online engagement.
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