Collaboration & Project ManagementForming partnerships and getting things done together
Partnerships in Learning
The ability to form working partnerships in business and education is crucial–especially today, with technology making it both necessary and easy to cross boundaries, pool resources, and share expertise with one another. One of the most productive partnerships that I have ever experienced was with fellow MET student Caroline Kim Moore from Ottawa. In two separate courses we collaborated on four major assignments, as shown in the slider below. (The word clouds are all based on the individual papers and linked to them.)
Tap or click to read the papers via Google Drive's PDF viewer (for devices that don't have Adobe Reader installed)
I worked with Gary on several graduate projects at UBC, and found him to be a thoughtful practitioner who communicated his insights articulately. An excellent collaborator, he was a sought-out member of group projects, and was an industrious, generous, and prolific contributor who offered and received constructive comments.
CAROLINE KIM MOORE
Writing Innovation: Using Video for Academic Writing Feedback
Testing this approach was possible only because a colleague was willing to collaborate and give honest feedback It is worth noting that this approach is also now possible because apps like YouTube and Snagit have finally become extremely lightweight and fast.
The “Teacher to Teacher” video is actually a trial run of using YouTube video to provide feedback on academic writing. It was done with TechSmith’s Snagit software and the kind consent of Jennifer, one of my UBC MET Program colleagues. It took less time to make the video than it would have taken to provide as much written feedback and, according to Jennifer, proved to be very helpful and a great success.
The “Teacher to Student” video is a result of that trial run with Jennifer. It is an example of actual feedback that I gave to a real student on a preliminary (Pass/Fail) writing assignment that required students to write one paragraph using the “Basic Academic Writing – MLA Format” video (shown above). Because the assignment was only concerned with learning the basics of MLA, students were not marked on their grammar.
Audio Reflection on the Above Artifact (1:14)
Jennifer’s peer review for me was done the usual way, in text. It was a tremendous help to me as I was back in school for the first time in several years and a bit apprehensive about my writing skills.
Leading by Example – Video Discussions
Thanks to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., video is slowly catching on. Throughout the entire MET Community experience, I constantly sought new ways to use video and other forms of alternative media (instead of text) to communicate in a more personal, human way with my colleagues. Although I am sure that my occasional inability to get straight to the point and keep the videos short may have frustrated folks from time to time, I know that many appreciated the effort because a few of them started using video in the same way. It’s not easy because, according to research by people like Dr. Michael Wesch, we all suffer from “context collapse” when we first try speaking into a camera.
Below are a few of the videos that I made for various aspects of the MET Program. To the best of my knowledge, (and to my surprise), I was the first in our cohort to regularly use video in our group discussion forums. I also enjoyed making quick “down and dirty” tutorials to help out other classmates when they needed it.
Below are some examples. The first group of six are videos that I posted in the general group discussion forums. They are followed by a few tutorials that I made in situations where I turned out to be the MKO of the group.
Discussion Forum Videos
Occasionally, I found myself in a situation where I happened to be a more knowledgeable other (MKO) about some aspect of an assignment. Because of an unfortunate situation in one of my first MET courses – in which an MKO chose not to share the knowledge – I made a personal commitment to avoid emulating that mistake and, instead, share whatever bit of extra knowledge I could – whenever it would help someone.
Three Crack Teams of Consummate Collaborators
…and they were all overachievers!
With all the time zone and cultural differences, it was sometimes challenging for us to attain the outcomes we were aiming for. The one thing that made it possible was the mutual respect and trust that we all had for one another.
Extemporaneous Comments on Collaborations - An Audio Reflection (4:33)
ETEC565M Open Educational Resource
DLG @ Case Study Assignment: Online Presentation on Internet Memes
Online Vygotsky Presentation
Turning a Negative into a Positive
In this early MET course, I learned that scaffolding – and group projects – only work when the MKOs use their knowledge to help others than themselves.
In one of my earlier UBC Master of Educational Technology classes, I had the challenging experience of working in a group in which a key member was reluctant to share knowledge about the theme that had been chosen (by that member) for our group WordPress site. This resulted in the marginalization of other group members because only that one more knowledgeable individual knew how to use some specific and hidden “theme options” to edit the all-important front page of the site. Furthermore, when three group members requested that a major change be made to the front page, their requests were ignored. Sadly, the final phase of the project devolved into confusion, frustration, and a fundamentally flawed design project that cannot be used as an artifact for this e-Portfolio.
This difficult experience challenged me to carefully reflect and consider if there might be some way to avoid such difficulty in future group work. According to Palloff and Pratt, group conflicts and crises are not uncommon , but they usually occur much earlier than in the final phase of a project. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I needed to take a proactive approach and develop effective strategies and methods that would prevent the marginalization of any group members in future collaborative MET assignments.
Now that I have completed the MET Program, including courses that deal extensively with constructivism and higher education, I can confirm that the solution I came up with is supported by Vygotskian theories about the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and more knowledgeable others (MKOs) ; as well as Bates and Sangrà’s contention that, in higher education, it is essential that all stakeholders (faculty or group members) be included as equal partners in the planning and implementation of e-learning initiatives .
This video demonstrates the lesson learned from the unsharing MKO who ignored the suggestions of the majority of our group.
This is the overview video that was buried (and also deleted in our companion LMS!) by the group’s unsharing MKO.