Reflections on Teamwork and Online Study

There may never be a better time to complete some reflection and assessment on personal skills and readiness for online study as when you are beginning an online graduate program! I have taken a few online classes before but have never pursued a degree completely online. This unit was extremely helpful in thinking more critically about the realities of online study. To succeed as an online student and as a member of an online team, it is beneficial to realize the limitations and benefits of working online. I scored well on the quizzes testing readiness for online learning provided in this unit, although I still have some measure of anxiety that I am behind my peers or missing something important. The “self-guided” element can be a bit nerve-wracking. However, it’s clear at this point what skills and tools are needed to be successful, so now it’s a matter of following suggestions!

The tips for success mentioned in this unit were particularly helpful. I have a master calendar in my planner where I keep track of everything – work schedule, volunteer schedule, family commitments, class responsibilities and due dates for assignments… everything important is in one place. I’ve been logging into D2L everyday with a goal of spending at least one hour online but obviously this has varied more or less from day to day. Already I’m learning important lessons about being flexible! I have a folder for each class on my desktop, with subfolders for each week or unit. I’ve also bookmarked important websites for easy reference and access. Other tips that were helpful included guidelines for online communication (e.g., use clear writing, be aware of delayed responding, etc).

Prior to this, I had worked in teams several times both in academic and employment settings but had never received actual teamwork training before. Some groups were a joy to work with, especially those where everyone contributed equally, pulled their weight and were respectful to each other. Other groups were a challenge, to say the least. Like many people, group work isn’t something I generally look forward to but perhaps with some new insights and a positive attitude it will become more painless than painful.

Dr. Haycock’s presentation offered great advice for working in teams, including the idea of having group goals at the same time as individual accountability. I liked his discussion of the importance of performance standards as well as using the team leader to help move the group through the work process. It’s important not to attribute unnecessary motive to team member’s actions but rather use productive language to help move situations forward. Enid Irwin’s presentation was also very helpful in thinking about how attitude, planning and participation can contribute to a positive teamwork experience. I loved her comment that “your career begins when your classes begin” and that behavior here at SLIS is behavior to be remembered by as we venture out into the world amongst our classmate colleagues. I hope to incorporate these ideas and others into my approach to team work throughout my time in graduate school and long after.

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