Monday, October 24, 2016

What make for successful teams?

I thought this piece was an interesting read for the class on several grounds.  The notion of social capital is quite interesting as is teaching empathy.  And, just to make the world seem quite small, Carol Vallone who ran WebCT is one of my contacts in LinkedIn and our campus was a WebCT client when I had my campus job of Assistant CIO for Educational Technologies.  On campus, that was called Illinois Compass.


  1. In class on Tuesday we talked a bit how students might not be effective team members because we all have varying schedules so in that sense our social sensitivity or social capital would be low or non existent because it's a whole new relationship that would likely end after the semester.

    I was curious if you think that online classes play a role in this too. In my experience, some online courses seem cut and dry and have students go through the motion. It would seem that the online class may reinforce the behavior of a lack of participation or empathy for group members.

    To branch off of that idea it reminds me of how my parents told me that people were a lot more social back in their youth and that people conversed more often and easily with one another. I also recall seeing studies (although I never confirmed if they held any scientific merit) that suggested that sites like Facebook were actually making us less social. With more time spent online we have less time spent being face to face with strangers.

    Just curious of your thoughts on that

    1. I hope I wasn't too flippant with that comment. I have seen effective student teams, so it surely is possible. But it doesn't seem to be the norm and one wonders what it would take to make it the norm.

      Regarding online classes - it's important to understand that higher education is quite a segmented market with many different niches. For rural students or commuting students in a big city, online is an incredible boon. That said, it poses challenges of eliciting commitment from students and getting a high degree of interaction among the classmates.

      Online for traditional residential students, perhaps a summer class, maybe a course that would otherwise be oversubscribed, can work effectively, but perhaps increases the likelihood that students will just go through the motions. So if student passivity was already an issue, then online might make things worse.

      There is a whole bunch of stuff written about (1) the evils of multiprocessing for preventing deep thinking and impairing thought and (2) that face to face conversation, such as over coffee or for lunch encourages empathy while text chat does not. I don't know what the answer is here. The technology is certainly not going away. But perhaps if you are aware of the pitfalls you then take steps to get more balance in your life.