I was recently part of a group that created a presentation on the topic of Adaptive Learning as an emerging or future educational technology. We are all ed tech nerds or nerds-in-training and were excited about the possibility of exploring a technology that evolved from 1950s psychology to one of the most important disruptors in education of the future – Adaptive Learning. The fine result of our work, and a link to the technologies used to create our presentation is outlined can be found on our project blog or YouTube.
With its roots in artificial intelligence and potential to influence future educational paradigms, the topic of Adaptive Learning held much appeal for a group of nerds. As individuals and as a group we committed long hours over four weeks to creating a compelling, 10-minute presentation. It was a challenge, though, and it wasn’t until the last couple of days – the last quarter so to speak – that a long, desperate pass pulled it all together. It was a testament to hard work and commitment, but for the Type A in me, at least, it was a bit nerve-wracking.
The experience underlies the importance of careful planning for productive group work across three provinces in a digital environment. Takeaways for the next project:
1.Choose and utilize tools wisely
It took a while to figure out how to best optimize the tools we selected, but once mastered, they became invaluable resources for our group. Four tools that proved very helpful to us were:
A free file storage and synchronization service that allows users to store files in the cloud, synchronize files across devices, and share files, Google Drive enables collaboration online within any of the Google apps. With collaborative projects, members can create and update documents at the same time, making the application an ideal platform for groups to plan, review, and edit content collectively. Files in Drive are private until individuals decide to share them by inviting others to view, comment and edit any file or folder they choose.
Google Drive was used throughout the process to:
How do I love thee, Trello? Let me count the ways we used its simple, visual display board to manage our project:
Skype was used on a weekly basis to:
Twitter was an invaluable tool for those of us wanting to keep up on the project throughout the day while only having access to mobile devices. Twitter’s Direct Messaging offered us the opportunity to communicate and share information throughout the working day with private messaging.
2. Assign Roles
Having a diversity of skills and ideas within our group ultimately improved the final product. However, how we divided up the tasks left us scrambling a bit at the end.
One way to structure group functioning and optimize individual strengths is to assign roles to each member of the group. These roles can be assigned based on individual strengths or, in a workplace, rotated to increase each individual’s understanding of the roles and of themselves as team members. In our case, once the topic was determined, the roles may have been researcher, writer, presentation developer, and web master.
Another way to structure the group is to divide all aspects of the project amongst the membership. This is the approach we took: each member completed one section of the presentation from concept to finished product, including script. The presentation was then compiled by one member and narrated by another. Throughout the duration of the project a couple of members took the role of leader/facilitator and monitor by default.
In spite of all of the hard work put in by all, by the time we reached the last week of the project, we had created a disjointed, but comely coat of many colours. We pulled it together with a Hail Mary pass, but I think we might have benefitted from assigning roles based on individual strengths.