Alpha Journal

Week 1 – 28/5/2012 to 3/6/2012

JM 4/6/2012 Initially discussing assignment 2 via Facebook but decided to switch to to complete assignment 2.
Alex has created a group for the team.

Aleksandra Cop
Alexandra Malone
Francesca Radice
Jean Moss
Liz Power
Penny Dodman
Stephanie D'Silva

Challenges facing this team will be to organise meetings across time zones and varying schedules.
So far only 5 of 7 members have accepted the invitation for the Wiggio group.

JM When i learnt that so much of this unit involved group work i was a little apprehensive about how it would be like working in a larger team where we had to do all of the work online. I perceived issues that could arise such as
* team does not communicate (due to time differences, culture, distance)
* ways of communication to overcome time and distance
* lack of engagement/commitment from members
* inequitable distribution of work
* varying schedules of its members
* other commitments to work, family and studies

LP: I found it quite daunting finding a team to be a part of and thought I needed to quickly decide on which tool I was going to review and make sure no one else in the team had chosen the same tool. Once I joined I felt more relaxed and seems everyone was in the same position and we all wanted to make sure we got an early start to the assignment as there are always issues that can arise as we get further along the study period.

SH: I have no issues with group work, however I have my reservations about online group work; especially where there is no face-to-face contact. As Jean mentioned, there are several potential issues which can arise and become hurdles to overcome.

Week 2 – 4/6/2012 to 10/6/2012

FR 4/6/2012:
Nominated myself as Project Liaison. Responsible for communication between team members, contacting members that are absent from meetings, addressing issues and communicating them to the project manager.

AC 5/6/2012: Alex Cop has created the Project Roles document outlining roles for each member to choose from.

6/6/2012 : Weekly team member meeting

LP: I have used Wiggio before so felt comfortable using a program I was familiar with. Knowing its limitations as helped and I am pleased we have chosen it to communicate amongst ourselves. We are also using facebook to communicate and send messages.The first assignment has been quite useful in reading other's reviews of tools that may come in handy.
For a project with such a short time frame I believe its easier to use tools that are familiar with the majority of users.

SH: followed the group to whichever platform was chosen, however too many communication channels quickly appeared. This could become confusing and overwhelming later on. Wiggio is an interesting platform, however definitely has limitations which need to be corrected to an excellent working platform for such use. I don't feel it is that user-friendly.

Week 3 – 11/6/2012 to 17/6/2012

13/6/2012: Weekly team meeting

JM The team has been working hard and working quite well. Team communication via Facebook and Wiggio has ensured efficient communications. Weekly chats and meeting minutes are uploaded as a record and also for those members who have been unable to attend. To do lists are created as reminders and the Fran (Project Liaison) provides summaries for the team. For the first few weeks the team had to deal with technical difficulties while mastering Wiggio; Alex was great following up the issues.

AM It can be difficult to judge tones within a chatroom and people can take things the wrong way. Emoticons help combat this.

LP: Some of the roles cross over so I was playing around with wikidot and created a site for the team. It can be a bit clunky to use but it just takes some time.

SH: Quite an emphasis on roles. Agreed, tones via text are hard to determine, unless personalities are known and previous interactions have taken place. This can create awkward situations amongst team members and which can lead to much larger issues.

Week 4 – 18/6/2012 to 24/6/2012

20/6/2012: Weekly team meeting

AC 20/6/2012: Team Liaison assigned. Alex Cop will be responsible for all communication with the tutor which includes weekly reports on team's progress as well as any questions or concerns that are raised by team members that need to be communicate to the tutor.

22/6/2012: Assign Team Liaison to communicate with the tutor

AC It has been decided that we will use Wordpress instead of Wikidot . Wikidot being more technical requiring the knowledge of wikidot sintax, is not favorable considering the time constraint for the Assignment 2. It has been noted that Wordpress is much more user friendly and easily to customize to the requirements.

AC Nick has suggested that we should use some other platform to collaborate instead of wiggio. His suggestion has been noted and discussed but it was voted autonomously that Wiggio will serve it's purpose for this project.

LP: The team discussed which headings we need to create an outline for the assignment. It was also decided to use Wordpress for the final output as everyone has used it before.

Week 5 – 25/6/2012 to 1/7/2012

27/6/2012: Weekly team meeting

JM Continuing on with group activity, what has been noticeable is that there are some members that have not been as active as others, and may not benefit as much from tnothis exercise. I do see this as an obstacle to the completion of the tasks at hand as most members will pitch in and help outside of their assigned roles. However, it will generate some levels of discontent and apprehension amongst the team as the assignment results rely so much on group cohesion and the group will be marked as one.
Within the chats the many personalities have come into play, from outspoken members (this is not a criticism as the group thrives on discussion and relies on its members to speak out) to ones that have possibly been working in groups (either at work or at uni) whose contributions are measured and more conciliatory.
The strength of this group has been the willingness to the majority to engage fully in this team.

SM It's important for members who can't attend weekly meetings to let the others know so we know a)you're out there and b) you're keeping an eye on where the group is up to.

FR Wiggio is down! The group has scheduled a Sunday Meeting through Wiggio for Sunday the 1/7/2012. Unfortunately we will not be able to collaborate there. Tomorrow morning the Week 6 A2 draft is due and getting together as a team is most important.

This week I am late on adding a meeting summary because of not being able to post through Wiggio. I don't think I will personally choose Wiggio in the future for collaboration and group work.

SD – Joining this group at a later date than some of the other members of the team, I have often found it difficult to remain ‘in sync’ with the group. While it was not difficult catch up on what decisions and progress had been made by looking through the meeting scripts/minutes and posts in Wiggio, I did not feel as though the opinions of the supposed ‘late-comers’ were considered important. As one of these ‘late-comers’, even though I did not necessarily agree with all aspects of the plan, I did not feel like I should come in and demand an explanation for why certain decisions were made or that changes should be made, rather I asked questions and tried to assign myself to tasks that were not taken by other group members as this assignment is dependent on the group as a whole working together. In regards to this, there are some communications issues within the team, but I do not believe that when it comes down to getting assignment done that we will have too many issues as members are committed to ensuring the assignment is completed successfully.

I have also had some technical issues with Wiggio:

  • Text in posts, were changed to random characters – not a big deal but annoying.
  • All document versions can be edited and commented on so we had members add information to an old version which caused some confusion and doubling of work done.
  • Wiggio was down for most of the day prior to the outline due date, which I find worrying as we have not yet established a backup for communication.
  • If you are not invited to a meeting you cannot access the meeting chat room even if you are part of the group. This was discovered after I was initially unable to make it to one of the meetings (therefore not getting the invite) but in the end was able to get out my work meeting early and attend the meeting. However, due the meeting functionality I was not able to join the meeting chat. I suggested that all team members are invited to each meeting even if they have advised they cannot make it, as things / plan do change and it is more beneficial to team if all members can join the meeting if possible.

Another small issue, which is beyond anybody’s control, is that we have 2 Stephanie D’s in our group. We have now sorted this out by changing the names on-screen, however, it was initially confusing.

AL - I have also joined the group late (due to my own personal reasons) and found it a little overwhelming to catch up with everyone. A lot of decisions had been made which is great. It has proven a little difficult to go back and understand what is happening. I have spent a lot of time reading what our team has written to try to catch up to speed.

It is great that we have weekly meetings which allow everyone to catch up and stay on the same page. This week 5 meeting was the first meeting I attended as I was eager to catch up and pull my weight for the team. I found it very comforting that the team was very accommodating despite my late contributions. I was explained very clearly what I needed to do and where to go about completing these tasks.

It has taken a bit of time to get use to wiggio and wikidot. With wiggio being down for a good portion of last week that hasn't helped with figuring it all out. I seem to be quite familiar with everything people have been working on and am caught up so I look forward to working on this with the team.

LP: Created a wordpress site for the team to use but it was decided we would stick with wikidot. Wiggio has been down for a couple of days which has created some confusion. It was decided to use skype for our meetings in future. It is quite difficult to stick to the roles and responsibilities as all members want to contribute to the content of the site so we are all writing and posting on the site.

SH: I also feel it was difficult for the new comers to join in the meetings, as mentioned above - understandable that foundation decisions cannot be changed, however their opinions and suggestions are still valid.
Wiggio proved itself again to be quite clunky and obtuse - despite having a nice iOS app to stay up to date with easily, it's a platform that I won't be returning to in the future.
Roles cropped up again - I found this topic to be extremely frustrating to sit and watch take place. There was too much emphasis on this from the beginning.

Week 6 – 2/7/2012 to 8/7/2012

4/7/2012: Weekly team meeting

2/7/2012: Assignment 2 Outline due @ 9am Perth time

FR - On the 4/7/2012 First draft submitted for Gift Economy. Trying to be as "bold" as I can by just doing it and not thinking about it too much. Thinking stops creativity. Kate Raines Goldie added a post to Wikipedia's definition of "Being Bold" I liked it and tried to work this way rather than how I was working before.

JM - It has been a quiet week as we wait for Kate's response to our outline. I have collated a bunch of readings which I am going through. In terms of the team we seem to be pulling together and it was great that we had the full contingent last meeting. As well, everyone is contributing to discussions. The quick poll whereby everyone said they were happy with the way the team was progressing is encouraging. Hopefully we can maintain this momentum.
Kate's response at Kate on Assignment 2 throws it all wide open as to how we structure our assignment - we need to be creative and engage our audience as well as deliver the required content. I am looking at articles on the Net and tryng to decipher why they are interesting to me - is it the presentation, the content, the language, even the site (am I biased because I think a particular site may present better articles - as in the branding). Hopefully this will help me write my sections.
Another challenge will be how we make our individual contributions cohesive :)
On the upside - no glitches with our tools yay

LP: I caught up on some readings this week as we were waiting for Kate's feedback to our outline and didn't want to continue until we knew we were on the right track.

Week 7 – 9/7/2012 to 15/7/2012

11/7/2012: Weekly team meeting

FR: Added summary and minutes for Wednesday week 7 meeting to wikidot. Working on thesis and finding it very difficult.

JM: Some excellent brain storming at last team meeting. Kate's feedback was discussed. we all felt that while we had all the ingredients for an excellent report we needed to agree on our thesis which would guide our writing. Like Fran I find the thesis thing difficult and had to break down elements of the question to come up with one. It will be interesting to see the team's responses tonight.

LP: It is difficult for a group to agree on a thesis. I have always found it difficult to produce one when I am working by myself so it proves to be challenging. There are some great ideas put forward but nothing cohesive.

SH: I agree also, I have troubles with determining my theses for assignments - and trying to collaborate nonverbally and virtually via text with a team, is quite challenging. On the upside - this group has been great to work with - everyone is doing something to keep this project afloat and to reach the target on time. With the feedback from Kate, the topic of headings was reintroduced. Individual interpretation of said feedback occurred in the meeting, and again proved that we all think differently and attempting to collaborate on an assignment - which is broken down into sections, is a difficult task.

Week 8 – 16/7/2012 to 22/7/2012

18/7/2012: Weekly team meeting

FR: Added an Introduction and Conclusion. Added a video detaining thesis process leading to final thesis. Changed sidebar to have it navigational. Now one can click to more detailed content with headings.

SH: The groups' perspective and grasp of the topic has settled down, however new concepts appear and throw things into disarray. Again, I believe it is difficult to complete an online group assignment, when we have worked on solo theses and essays for so long. In a group environment, there needs to be a compromise between our own study processes and techniques and the dynamic of the groups' functioning. Again, our own writing styles might pose an issue when it comes to pulling the whole piece together.

JM: Working through the reviews I am finding it a little daunting with the different styles. Interesting, but daunting.
The absence of some members bothers me, not because of their absence per se, but because they have not shown the group any consideration and advised us of their inability to contribute. I have tried to contact both Nick and Alaister through different channels but with no success.

Week 9 – 23/7/2012 to 29/7/2012

25/7/2012: The last weekly team meeting

FR - This week was changing and reworking old work. Wanted to make a story video out of the dialogue created in meeting but was unable to because it is due tomorrow.

SD - I found the final touches and reviews of our assignment difficult as we only had limited members willing to participate and there was a lack of communication in the end from some members. We were luck that we had a few members willing and ready to jump in and complete the final assignment - big thanks to those members.

27/7/2012: Assignment 2 due @ 9am Perth time

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