So it’s started. My lifelong pathological dislike of working in a group.Our choices of student-led seminars (that means a two week mini-course, not a short live session) have been made and we’ve been allocated a group and time. I am pleased to have my first choice and pleased to have good team members but I feel sorry for them to have to put up with me and my anxieties.
I just prefer working on my own. As a classroom teacher, although you have department meetings and you have to agree on the curriculum, syllabus, etc, you are still master of your own domain. As Moodle Community educator I work alone from home and although I am in a team and we have regular meetings and tasks to fulfil, much of this is done as an individual. Yet both Paloff and Pratt (2013) and Vai and Sosulski (2016) laud the benefits of group work. According to the former:
Working with an online group can serve to reduce the sense of isolation […] encouraging students to become part of a whole by joining an online classroom group increases the likelihood they will stay involved and motivated, because successful completion of the task is a collaborative effort.
Vai and Sosulski suggest that courses should include
..sufficient opportunities for learners to work collaboratively
but they do also discuss different types of group (heterogenous, homogenous and jigsaw) and talk about giving intrapersonal learners the opportunity to work alone. I think I’m one of them. But how to give my best in a group?
I think a heterogenous group would be the type I would be most comfortable with. In a heterogenous group,the differences, not the similarities are highlighted:
each learner in the group may have a different skill critical to the success of the group activity.
So you each have the chance to work on your own, doing what you do best, but for the benefit of the group as a whole. I sense that is how I work in our Moodle team.
So why am I anxious now? Because we haven’t got a name or a defined set of plans and we haven’t begun ‘doing’ stuff yet, whereas if I had been working on my own I would have got it all done. Of course, I might also have been far too hasty and not worked at a high enough level, and collaborating would/will mean improving the output from everyone. I accept that. I still find it frustrating though when you have to have a consensus. Perhaps that is why it is important to agree roles early on. Who’s the leader? Do we need a leader? Who writes the content? Or do we do it collaboratively? What if everyone wants to be the leader? What if nobody wants to be the leader? What if everyone wants to write the content? Or nobody?
Group work – aargh!
Vai, M. and Sosulski, K. (n.d.). Essentials of online course design. 1st ed.
Palloff, R. (2013). Lessons from the virtual classroom : the realities of online teaching. 1st ed.