This week we began working on the virtual team assignment. This is a collaboration project which sees students from the University of Limerick working with students from the University of Central Florida and the University Paris Diderot to produce a short set of instructions for online use. Once this document is complete, the French students translate the instructions from English into French. Every student is assigned to a team which contains two or three people from each university.
I had expected the list of team members to be posted on Sulis (our learning management system based on Sakai) first thing on Monday so that we could get started on the project right away. However, it was not until Wednesday that the list appeared. Which makes sense, as this is the time for our lecture. But I suppose this slight confusion on my part is one of the perils of being a distance student. You get so used to doing everything on your own time and having a flexible routine that sometimes it is easy to forget that other people might have to stick to regular schedules – like having an allocated lecture or lab time.
Anyway, I was assigned to Team 4 with two of my classmates, one of whom made first contact by sending out a group email as a way of introducing herself. I had assumed that everyone would use Sulis straight away, as a space had been created for us to use specifically for this project. And while all of us at Limerick are familiar with the minutiae of Sulis, what I hadn’t realised was that the students from Florida and Paris had never used this system before and are probably uncertain about how best to access it.
So seeing as email was the best way of introducing myself to the group, I quickly sent one off. But just to be sure, I also started a discussion group on Sulis were people can introduce themselves. The interesting thing about this Sulis workspace is that the group members have full control over moderating the site. We can upload resources and content, modify the calendar, and even make announcements. Even now as I write this, I am just beginning to realise how useful all these features are.
But. Even now, some of the group members have yet to make contact, so it is difficult to know if they are happy to use Sulis or if they would prefer to use another tool. However, it is only the weekend, so I expect our group will see more activity before Monday arrives. I don’t know at this stage how many people in our group are working part time, or how busy their schedules are, but hopefully it will soon become clear as to what times best suit people to work on this project.
One thing I know for certain though is that this is terrible timing for our American colleagues. Superbowl is on this Sunday, so I really don’t expect to hear from them on Sunday. Or Monday, for that matter. But I guess once all that excitement is over, we can knuckle down to work on this project together.
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