Collaboration for credit

August 16, 2012

A portion of the work towards my MLIS will be groupwork. Apparently I am not the only one made anxious by this — a large portion of the unit on personal skills focuses on the dynamics of groupwork, common pitfalls, and how to succeed.

During the years I’ve been working, I’ve developed many of the personal skills that SJSU suggests I need to study online (“Is Online Right for You?“), such as time management and organization. And after working with information technology for fourteen years, I’m extremely comfortable with technology. If I don’t already know it, I can pick it up quickly enough.

The San Diego Community College District’s Online Learning Readiness Assessment gets a little more into the nitty-gritty. Of course, I have no problem working on computers, or meeting deadlines. I plan to log in every day so I don’t miss anything important.

I’ve also worked a great deal in teams — and, unfortunately, in “committees,” according to Haycock’s distinction between the two. At one job I was fortunate to be part of, and later, manager of, a real team. I like to think I am comfortable in a leadership role, but also comfortable accepting someone else as leader. My weakness is dealing with conflict in groups — I don’t have the patience or skill for it.

For my SLIS work in particular, there are other issues that give me pause (and probably will for my teammates too). One obstacle is that I live in Kampala, Uganda, and most of my classmates live in the US — and most of them on the West Coast, 10 time zones away. It’s true that technology can shrink these great distances, but scheduling group meetings is not going to be easy for my team. I also have to factor in my responsibilities with my children. For example, I hope no one asks to meet between 8-10 am Pacific time — that’s dinnertime and bedtime here, the toughest time of day, as any parent can tell you.

I thought Haycock’s presentation was good — detailed and realistic in terms of describing dynamics of groups. Two parts stood out to me. First of all, the importance of establishing ground rules (even for things that seem like they should be no-brainers, like showing up prepared and on time). Secondly, the benefits of choosing a team leader to make decisions when the group is stalled. I’m still a bit nervous about my upcoming groupwork, but I’m feeling hopeful that with these tips, my classmates and I can work through “storming” right to “norming” and “performing.”

One Response to “Collaboration for credit”

  1. Robin–loved the points you brought out in your blog. You’re right, it takes an incredible show of character in a leader who’s able to successfully negotiate the stormy waters of conflict in a group. Its something that comes rare innately for many of us, but I think with enough practice, it’s something we can all eventually become good at.

    Also, I wouldn’t worry about people wanting to meet up between 8-10 in the morning!! Thankfully I’ve never had a meet-up at that time. A lot of folks are working in the program and if they’re not working… *laugh* they’re probably sleeping in!!

    I have a feeling you’re going to be just fine. 🙂

    Zem