Unit 3 Notes

Facilitating Online Teams

Jen Walinga (1:58)

Cooperative or team-based learning is widely hailed as an effective learning strategy in both online and face-to-face learning environments.

Glover’s article (2000) looks closely at the value of group work in online environments and applies Tuckman’s Five Stages of Community Development to online group processes.

In teaching in an online MBA program, Lam et al (2005) share their observations of virtual team dynamics, articulating in particular the patterns of collaborative behaviour that help distinguish between poor and high team performance.

Team learning or online group projects present their own set of challenges. In the online course, group dynamics, communication, and conflict can be difficult to discern. Generally, people are quite polite in online teamwork; however, there can be sub-currents that can impair the group's effectiveness to work cohesively. All the same dynamics that are at play in Tuckman's Five Stages of Group Development are still at play, but they are just more challenging to track in the online environment. These five stages might not happen linearly or in every group situation but understanding the dynamics involved in these different stages helps online instructors anticipate and plan for issues that might arise when students are engaged in team learning.

What happens when conflict occurs between online participants? How does an instructor diagnose, manage, and help to resolve the situation? The case study presented in this unit is intended to give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in a typical situation that may occur in one of your courses and to help you stand in the shoes of a student.

Jen Walinga (:34)