The Slow Bicycle Race

This is the second week of the collaboration project and this blog post will reflect on what progress we have made.

What have I learnt?

We didn’t appoint a team leader which was a mistake in retrospect, as it is becoming clear how necessary the role is.  Putting a structure on the process important, and as the week has progressed, I have effectively taken on the role.  I have spent time suggesting next steps and moving the project forward often without feedback from all team members.  Given the deadline to complete the writing elements of the project, once team members have been given a reasonable amount of time to respond, taking time differences etc. into account, that it is not unreasonable to move on based on the decisions made by the members who participate.

I have also spent some time this week exploring Sulis as an administrator rather than a student (think poacher turned gamekeeper!).  The announcements tool is very useful for posting project updates on the site as you can set up e-mail alerts.

It is also becoming clear how important it to structure the project, organise a schedule and get buy in from team members.  There is a core group within the team who are working well, but there are some other who are less engaged.  I am hoping that now that we have assigned roles and tasks to everyone that they will get more involved.

How are we communicating?

We started off using Sulis but then default became e-mail very quickly, particularly as some students are not familiar with Sulis.  I am keen to move the project back to Sulis because it is a requirement of the assignment it that if the teams don’t use Sulis, then we will have to transcribe the collaboration content into Sulis which will take time at the end of the project.  At the moment team members are posting to Sulis and then circulating an email with the content but that’s a bit unsatisfactory because of the risk of parallel discussions running on e-mail and sulis which would be difficult to track. At the end of the week, I started to use the announcements tool in Sulis with the option to e-mail which has worked well.  I have also set up separate folders in the discussion section to manage questions on the writing, editing and translation elements of the project.  On of the other team members set up a project schedule in sulis.

What progress have we made?

We have made significant progress this week and made the following decisions:

  • Sulis is our collaborative tool with some duplication on e-mail.
  • We are developing instructions to assist setting up and running an account in Slack.
  • One of the US team members drafted a schedule,
  • Another team member has developed a style guide,
  • Most of the team have volunteered for the various roles, roles have been assigned to members who haven’t volunteered. But, from the group of students that have volunteered, we have a writer, editor and graphics and writer/editor. We will be able to complete the project with that core group.
  • I have developed and circulated a list of topics.
  • We have a deadline of Tuesday evening to draft the topics.

I suspect that the next few days will tell a lot as there are a number of team members who are checking in occasionally, have not volunteered to take on any roles, but have not objected to roles being assigned.  So by mid-week, we will either have a reasonable first draft knocked out or we will have gaps in the content and the confirmation that some team members are not pulling their weight. In my last blog post, I mentioned some of the factors that are essential in order for virtual teams to work well – trust, attentiveness and communication – this week will be the test of that.

In my next blog, I will reflect on the content development elements of the project.




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