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Virtual teamwork to reflect on virtual teamwork

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Simon Buckingham Shum
18 April 2008

I created a TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment) for the first few years of presentation of the OU's MBA programme (B823: Managing Knowledge), which required students to participate in a web search and interpretation exercise, working together in a virtual online team, using a variety of tools (Lyceum VoIP shared workspace; FirstClass threaded forums; phone; email). The required output was a group taxonomy of the web resources, and an individual report reflecting on how well the tools had supported/obstructed teamworking, and other reflections on being thrown together to work in this way, as many organisations now ask employees to. This worked well in that it provided an immersive experience on which students were asked to reflect. It had the usual complications of groupworking and some technical issues with VoIP (which in pre-Skype 1999, was novel). Tech problems were however grist for the mill: students could reflect on their tolerance of problems, and the impact on their work. This would not be applicable if the focus was not on virtual team technology of course, when problems would be simply annoying.

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