Virtual Teamwork in Distance Education

Virtual Teamwork in Distance Education

Donna L. Jones (Blackboard Inc., USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch338
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In modern organizational environments, education included, teamwork is an essential skill that employees must possess to work effectively with others. Johnson and Johnson (1994) substantiate that “society has moved from manufacturing based work on which individuals generally competed or were independent from each other to information and technological-rich work in which individuals generally work in teams” (p. 1017). Dyer stated (Cherrington, Bischoff, Dyer, Stephan, and Stewart, 2001) that “in every organization people must work together in some form of collaboration or teamwork so the combined efforts are productive and people are helping each other rather than blocking or hindering each other” (p. 521). According to Gregory- Dawes (2000), a team functioning properly allows a group of people to give information and material to each other and adds a unique quality to problem solving, referred to as “synergy.”
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Unfortunately, not all students who enter a Distance Education program have academically received the required skills needed to work collaboratively within a team. Paretti, McNair, and Holloway-Attaway (2007) suggest that although today’s students are knowledgeable in using virtual collaboration for personal and social needs, they are not able to transfer this knowledge into the professional setting and as a result need instruction to enable them to manage virtual team environments. Grzeda, Haq, and LeBrasseur (2008) found that team-building exercises are effective learning activities in online courses and stressing the importance of team processes and team skills are valuable to online students. Dyer (McKendall, 2000) recognizes that schools should be teaching students to work in teams but instead give only lip service to the process because they themselves do not know how to teach these skills. Justifiably, teamwork is an essential skill in today’s society, and associated skills of group collaboration are necessary to function effectively in an online setting.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Group dynamics: Group dynamics refers to the attitudes, energy, exchange, and interaction within a group by its members and leaders

Teamwork: More than one person working towards a shared objective in a cooperative manner.

Problem-Based Learning: Learning that closely resembles real life and provides team members a project with which they must use authentic tasks to arrive at a solution via consensus is commonly known as problem-based learning.

Face-to-Face: Face-to-face refers to the time that students in a hybrid educational program physically spend with each other in a traditional teaching and learning environment.

Synergy: The energy created by many individuals which results in a better outcome for a team than any one individual could have offered alone.

Collaboration: Collaboration refers to working together in a joint effort.

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