Virtual Team Assignment

The first assignment for this semester is a Virtual Team Assignment which consists of teaming together with 2 members of our own course and 2 students from the University of Florida. We each must explore an online communicative tool in order to assess its effectiveness for virtual team collaboration, and write up our findings in the form of a report.

I have never actually worked (academically) as part of a team before, let alone a virtual team! On top of this, I have no experience of using the technologies chosen by my team members (except chat tools). So Blogs, VoIP, Podcasts and Wikis are completely new to me. I chose blogs as they are so common and to my knowledge, primarily used as online journals or for short postings such as on Twitter, Facebook etc. and so I thought it would be interesting to explore them within the context of team communication. The fact that the technology is so simple also was a draw.

So far, I have started a team blog on our team site (not to mention this blog), and with all of the research I have done on blogs, I feel quite confident that my evaluation of them for our project will be negative in terms of their effectiveness for communication within a team. This is due to the fact that, while they have so many advantages like feedback/comments, archiving, linking, TrackBack and Blogrolls, they seem to facilitate more of an individual stream of thought/ideas as opposed to connecting the work of a group. For example, in the blog I have created on our team site, I had to explicitally request that it be used by other team members as it was being ignored to an extent. I was using the blog to summarize each meeting as a sort of team diary where our progress was consolidated into a short entry, with some questions thrown in like asking for clarification of a pooint. the blog was not read (to my knowledge anyway) or responded to by most of the team. instead, the discussion forums were used to pose questions and discuss issues. So, while the blog served a purpose for my own benefit, it did not contribute to the operation of the team. I think its quite ironic that discussion boards seem to be our main mode of communication but it is not one of our technological subjects.

In ‘Mastering Virtual Teams’ http://static.managementboek.nl/pdf/9780787955892.pdf, there is a strong emphasis on categorizing the specific type of team you are part of (eg: networked teams, project teams, product-development teams), before selecting communication tools to facilitate this. For example, with a global project team (such as we are) temporal and cross-cultural issues must be addressed before selecting appropriate tools, for example, chat tools.

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