Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Learning Styles don't exist.....

This goes against a lot of things I thought I knew about learning - especially thinking about e-learning or communicating via technology.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

firewalls and new social media

Saturday just happens to be my day for catching up on my blog reading, so forgive me if I add another item of interest today:


interesting parallels between BT and NHS, I thought.....

(and I got this from the DMU Pathfinder blog)

and on a more serious note...

(again I have to thank Ken Thompson for bringing this to my attention)

pulling together a few threads

I have been reviewing a number of postings on Blackboard, the wiki and here on Blogger, and co-incidentally, re-reading one of Week 6's featured articles about Factors in the Success of Virtual Team Working.

One of the issues that seems to get everyone exercised is the sense of equity of contribution.

My own view is that some people are more temperamentally suited to group working and love the chat and on-line socialising, others need the peace and quiet of an evening's study alone with their pdf's.....I also know that whilst some people get off to a quick start and make lots of useful contributions, others are facing technical, personal and work issues that prevent them gaining access to the various media.

Secondly, in the same article , was an interesting point about "compensation": if some group members are especially quiet, others seem to work harder to make sure the job gets done. Indeed it can seem as if some people are dominating the discussions, whilst others are not saying enough.

and finally, I resonated with the point it made about blurring of boundaries between work and home - another facet of "compensation"

The study provided evidence of how teleworking stimulates greater consciousness about the relationship between work in the workplace and work at home.
Research Group members were conspicuously concerned that people might presume they were not working properly (becoming “invisible” to the rest of the organisation), indeed to the point of over-compensating.
The diaries they kept showed that they consistently worked longer hours (on average by more than one hour) when teleworking.
An issue for virtual team leaders has to be about managing such diversity. What do you think?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Team communications

this looks like a handy little innovation for team communications. It reminds me of one of the principles that Ken Thompson talks about - the need for "one to many" signals at times....when passing on simple alerts to a team.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Meeting the new FLM students

Just back from three days in Scotland meeting tutors and students. (below: tutor Sarah Fraser with students and Raigmore Life Sciences building)

A big difference this year is that enrolments all happened by post, rather than on the induction day - so this week we were able to sign people into their DMU email accounts, get them up and running on Athens and Blackboard and give them a head start with the programme's distance learning elements.

The Scots are very warm and welcoming - and its just as well because the weather was atrocious! I saw some sunshine on the horizon, very briefly at dawn on the third day.... then it started raining, again! Thank goodness I came home to warmer weather today - I have been chilled to the bone.
Next week Linda and Kerry are off to Aberdeen to repeat the exercise with students from Grampion, then I am back in Edinburgh and Glasgow the following week.....I will be taking my winter coat and a pair of wellies this time.

For me, as I mostly only ever get to talk to students on the phone, blackboard or by email, its great to meet some of our distance learning students face to face.

Research on e-learning points to the importance of having some sort of face to face event to kick things off - and this is equally true of virtual teams.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Free stuff......

I recently came across this interesting site where you can easily publish, edit and maintain your own website for free. For anyone wanting to be creative: Weebly


If you are looking for Office compatible software - for free - try: Open Office


Or genuine MS Office 2007 very cheap Software4students

(It's all legal too!)

Size matters!

A concise article from Bioteams author Ken Thompson on choosing the right sized group for the job:


Monday, 8 September 2008

The three rings of team commitment

Another interesting posting from the Bioteams site: a useful model to consider when planning team formation or group tasks. Could also be useful in analysing team roles:-


Sunday, 7 September 2008

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The need for structure

I just posted the following on Blackboard - and the wiki:

"I had thought we would use the wiki for collaborative work on documents/projects where called on by the activities in the learning materials. However, I see this is now taking off as a great networking site in its own right and the ability to add photos and videos etc makes it more fun. A disadvantage is that not everyone can access or edit whilst at work.....

I envisioned the blog being used for: longer reflections on the materials, interesting articles and websites; sharing videos; responses to activities that specifically asked you to post your reflections on the blog. Again - not everyone can access form work: currently this is the least used site though I am not sure why. Any comments?

Blackboard is still the main place for course information, announcements, discussion about the materials and problems. It seems that everyone can access this from work but one or two have difficulties with their broadband connection from home. I see this as the "official" place to meet. What do you think? "

This is an important discussion point: new teams coming together have to quickly establish norms - especially for communication, to ensure that everyone is included and important messages don't get lost. In communicating with a dispersed team it is perhaps doubly important to get some clarity early on about communication channels.

But how good are we at doing this in "conventional" teams?

Email distribution lists aren't perfect; people are invited to meetings they don't need to attend, others aren't invited who should be part of the decision making, conversations happen behind closed doors that affect our jobs.....Sorting out our communication protocols is important work that is often overlooked. So it's good that we are addressing this as a "team"!!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Something I just read and wanted to share


I got this on Twitter from Ken Thompson who runs the bio teams site.....

could be useful to remember for those of you wanting to set up your own sites at work:

  • invest time in reaching your readers, not money on the tech kit
  • have someone looking after the site who knows what they are doing
  • make sure you have agreed the right measures of success

Monday, 1 September 2008

Face Book and Virtual Teams - who'd have thought?

I found this group site on Face Book which may be of interest:


It lists some interesting web sites and articles. It occurs to me too that Face Book itself can be a great tool for keeping in touch with a group. It's certainly worth exploring the technology - and who knows - having some fun too?

Here's an interesting website it lists (if you can't access the FB page)