Unit 5 Personal Skills Assignment: studying online and working as a team

ASSIGNMENT: Write a blog post with your reflections on the personal skills needed to succeed as an online student and as a member of an online team. Your comments should include references to some of the materials from this unit such as the readiness assessments, the tips for success, and the presentations by Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin. While watching the videos by Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin, I was struck by how many of the tips and frameworks for understanding how to be a good group member were familiar: I've heard many of them from doing some social justice and community organizing work. The idea of facilitating people to put their skills/enthusiasm/trust (as Irwin emphasizes) into common purpose, and people will act in the best way for their communities and themselves, is one that is very important to me. This framework values every human being and their contribution to shared work, and believes in the basic goodness and abilities of everyone.

Grand universalizing theories aside, collaboration is always challenging. I did a lot of groupwork in high school, as as an academic-minded kid, I did often do more work than others - because they let me, we didn't have good ground rules, and a majority of students were too busy being in high school and NOT caring to build good leadership skills for class assignments. I have learned better ways of listening, planning processes, and stepping up to roles I am not comfortable in, all to good results (and many hiccups). This challenge of collaboration is one of the most important life challenges out there, especially in the USA, where hyper-individualism and celebrity are often on people's minds.

I do forsee many challenges, however, with online work. The careful "submitting" of comments and assignments, the oddness of instant messaging, and the heightened sense of judgement that happens when we become so one dimensional in the online sphere can be collaboration killers. I enjoyed Dr. Haycock's statistics showing that learners retain 95% of what is taught to them when they are teaching someone else, and teamwork has that built in to it - but I'm afraid that just teaching without learning becomes more of a challenge when presented in videos and uploaded to dropboxes because of the loss of face-to-face accountability. It's easier to be a jerk online - just look at many comments below news stories or videos! There's a curious lack of self-reflection.

For my own studies, I hope to be healthy in my approaches. I appreciated the programs such as Password Safe, Diggio, etc, and think that having a good calendar will be important. I also plan on doing non-computer and social activities during the day when I am studying, as these huge chunks of screen time make my eyes, wrists, and brain hurt. Stretching, making art, and cooking are all on my to do list, as is remembering the positive aspects of getting a graduate degree online!