Throughout this particular module a few words have been mentioned again and again; culpability, organization, preparation, and motivation. The essence of it all is that in order to be successful in your endeavors as both an online student and a member of a team you must accept personal responsibility for all of your tasks no matter how big or small. The goal is to mold yourself into a well oiled machine.
Now, I don’t disagree with this. Being a good student has always been a priority of mine. A point of pride. But being an ideal student. Is that even possible? Where are these robot students?
Dr. Haycock’s presentation on team work left me questioning where the realism went in his assessment. It may just be that my experiences with teamwork have, for the most part, been like a scene out of a horror movie. Or as Haycock put it “the bane of every students existence.” The “monster” in every library school in Irwin’s words.
In nearly every team I’ve ever been in, and I’m talking since elementary school, it’s gone down something like this.
At first everyone in the team shows up to the meeting with some sense of dread. There’s always a period of silence when no one knows what to say and people talk to their friends instead of the group as a whole. Finally, some brave person speaks up and basically says: so what does everyone think about the project? Usually they get a few grunts in reply. This is the person that usually becomes the famed team leader of Haycock’s presentation. Then little projects get divided up, something Irwin says you shouldn’t do and is probably right, everyone takes something, and the team leaves feeling somewhat pleased with how things went. Then comes the work period. Now in my experience, there are always two or three people that work religiously on the task they’ve been given and when the group meets again are totally prepared. And then there’s the one person that lost their notes, forgot what their role was, and in essence has nothing to contribute and aims to get someone to take over their part so they don’t have to do anything. So the other two or three take over that person’s role as well and work themselves frazzled.
Jaded, perhaps, but that’s widely been what I’ve experienced. In light of this, Dr. Haycock’s version of team seems at best idealized. His “team leader” more like a den mother than anything else. What kind of consequences can you establish for someone who doesn’t care at all about the team, the project, or the school?
I’m not saying teams aren’t important. If they work as they’re supposed to, as Haycock and Irwin state they should, everything would work splendidly. As Haycock and Irwin advise, setting the tone of the project and evaluating everyone’s strengths is the key. There are few groups I’ve ever been in that can follow Haycock and Irwin’s keys to success. But when Haycock’s four stages of team growth are fluidly gone through it’s a beautiful process. When everyone participates, sets group goals in advance, and communicates with each other at each stage of the project it’s sure to succeed. A project is more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a living, breathing organism and needs to be treated as such.