Friday, August 31, 2007

Immersion -- Week 1


Okay, so classes started Monday and we had a kick-off for the Immersion project on Tuesday. We have a relatively small team (group of 5) of students with very diverse experiences. Our project is to bring Web 2.0 and/or mobile Web 2.0 to the users of T/TAC Online in some fashion. T/TAC Online is an online resource for Virginia teachers who work with special needs students. We will be meeting with the SMEs and other people involved in T/TAC on September 10th. Many Immersion teams have tackled T/TAC projects in the past. The current focus is a very different take from the projects that other teams have worked on in the past. As we delve into the Needs Analysis phase, it will be interesting to see exactly who is using the T/TAC site the most, how they are using it, and if these same users are currently using Web 2.0 professionally or personally.

It is no coincidence that we are focusing on Web 2.0 issues as most of the Immersion students are in the Multimedia/Hypermedia Design class. And it helps that both classes have the same instructor. She asked us to start a blog and post weekly reflections for Immersion. Lucky that I started this blog when I did! I will be posting my weekly reflections here along with other interesting tidbits as I see fit.

But until we have some in depth discussions with the SMEs, we will first focus on teamwork. We ran through some exercises from Teamwork from the Inside Out focusing on temperament characteristics using animal metaphors. We discovered that we are a team of dolphins and beavers. No lie. We are of the Idealist temperament (dolphins - driven by the need to have a purpose; relationship focused and empathetic, and the Guardian temperament (beavers - driven by the need to be responsible; builds results and needs to be part of the group). I am firmly a cross between a beaver and dolphin. Visually, that would be an interesting mash-up. But when pressed to fix on one "animal" versus another I just couldn't based on the characteristics prescribed by the author.

In addition, we had some reading on Virtual Team Productivity. In the article, the author focuses on bioteams, an area of research that identifies the characteristics of nature's most successful teams (ants, bees, etc.) and how these characteristics can be applied to our daily team interactions. It is an interesting article (there are no team leaders, orders are not issued, timely information is provided by everyone) but I am curious about how this bioteaming works if you think from a constructivist viewpoint -- looking at the notion of "Vital signs". If the team identifies their Vital Signs so that everyone knows when to respond and how to respond, wouldn't the response depend on how the individual constructs their meaning of a given situation? You can define your vital signs in black and white, but the individual's interpretation of using that vital sign in a situation where they deem it appropriate is the key. I think it may be a bit more complex than what leads up to a bee's waggle dance.

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