I may be in the minority here, but I have always enjoyed teamwork. I like having people cover for my weaknesses, and it’s always nice to have people to bounce ideas off of. I feel like working with other people to complete a project lets me focus on my strengths, and encourages others to do the same, resulting in a better product than if I were to do the whole thing on my own.
The problem with teamwork in an online environment is that you don’t know the people you’re working with. When I have been involved in team projects in the past, even if my team members were not my friends, I have usually had a good idea of their strengths and weakness. I know who will do their part without being asked and who will need some extra reminders to finish their work on time. For me, this comes naturally from observing people in the classroom, and I’ve gotten to practice it even more as a teacher watching my students interact with the material and each other.
But with an online team, there is no real opportunity to see how a person acts outside of the team setting or outside of a particular class unless you create it. I actually purposefully did not sign up for LIBR 202 because I saw from looking at the course information that I would be required to work in teams, and I wanted a chance to get used to online learning before having to do teamwork online as well. After listening to some lectures specifically about teamwork, though, it doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore.
Dr. Ken Haycock of SJSU’s School of Library and Information Science says that the key to a successful team is having a group goal with individual accountability. This means that there has to be a consensus within the team about what it hopes to achieve with a system of accountability like a peer assessment at the end to make sure everyone does their part. I have participated in goal setting and performance evaluation meetings in the past, and while I think they are definitely helpful in improving the final result, I think that it is also very important to get to know your team members in order to facilitate planning and the decision-making process when coming up with the goal and the accountability system.
In an online context, this means that I read as much of the discussions and posts in a forum or on the class website as I can, even if I’m not directly involved in the conversation. I try to participate in discussions and contribute to the online communities I am a part of. Sometimes trying to balance an online and a “real” social life can get a little overwhelming, but I’ve been recharging and gathering new material for about a year now, so I’m ready to get back into it!