BUILDING AN ONLINECOMMUNITY THROUGH GROUP WORKBy Elaine McCullough
ONLINE GROUP ASSIGNMENT Logistics• Class: Three sections of English 325: Advanced Business Writing• Number of Students: 42• Name of Group Assignment: Major Writing Assignment 2 (MWA 2)• Number of Groups: 9• Group Members: Chosen by me, based on students’ majors, with a three- day window for changing groups• Group Size: 3-5 members• Initial Group Meeting Place: Group boards in Vista’s Discussion Board. tool
ASSIGNMENT AND COMMUNITY BUILDINGIn the class:• Group Member Group Member• Groups/Group Members Instructor, by email and phone, in two progress reports, and upon assignment submission• Group Group, as they post their audio-visual deliverables• Groups Members of Other Groups, who post their comments on those deliverables• Members of Other Groups Groups/Group Members, who read and respond to those commentsOn the job:• Group Employees• EmployeesEmployees
COMPONENTS OF THE ASSIGNMENT: 1. THE GROUP PROCESS• A major component is the group process itself, which groups must analyze and then write about.• Groups read and are tested on information about working in groups on the job, given tips for success, asked to write specific agendas, and given the power to make grade-related decisions. For example• Tip 1: Online groups require members to use problem-solving skills• Tip 2: Early and frequent communication is critical to success• Group agendas should include a conflict-resolution plan• Groups have the power to remove non-producing members, who will receive an alternate assignment with a loss of points
2. RESEARCH ACTIVITY• All groups are required to create a fictitious company whose CEO wants to improve communication among employees and has decided to create a web site for that purpose.• Then three of the nine groups are told that the CEO wants to create a blog, three are told a social networking site, and three are told a wiki.• Groups then create their sites using free software available on the web.• Groups also make a video/podcast of the site, using screen-capture software (I created a video to show them how to use aTube Catcher), and uploaded it to uTube.• Here are the website of aTube Catcher and the instructional video I created about aTube Catcher for my students: http://atube-catcher.dsnetwb.com/video /.• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLhmx5R9RQQ&feature=youtu.be I forgot to select "Record Cursor" when I began the video. Youll still be able to follow what Im talking about, but seeing the cursor would have been helpful! Lesson learned.
3. WRITINGNear the completion of their group process and research activity, groupswrote three memos (to different audiences):1. one of approximately 750 words to me in which they explained and evaluated their group process2. one of approximately 750 words to employees of their fictitious company in which they stated the reasons the company needs the new web site (wiki, blog, or social networking site) and persuaded employees to use it, mentioned the site’s URL, and gave step-by-step instructions for using the site3. one of a few sentences to members of the English 325 class in which they explained their fictitious company and gave the uTube address of the screen-capture video4. Here are the assignment and my syllabus for the course: C:UsersElaineDesktopMWA 2.htm5. C:UsersElaineDesktopEnglish 325 Online Syllabus.htm
COMMUNITY BUILDING AND GRADINGAll members of a group received the same grade on the assignment as a whole, whichwas worth 10% of their final course grade. However, individual members were given the option to rewrite the memos for a higher grade. These additional features of the assignment encouraged community building throughout the class:1. The memo to the employees of the fictitious company and the memo to the class were posted on a special board in the Discussion Board tool.2. Groups earned an extra presentation grade for creating their two visuals and then posting them for class comment.3. Five extra-credit points were available for students in other groups for commenting on five of the presentations.
THE NUMBER OF MESSAGES INDICATES THE LEVEL OF CLASS INTERACTION WITH THE PRESENTATIONS
SAMPLE COMMENTS: ABOUT THE BLOG FOR CULINARY DELIGHTS The blog was very visual and yummy!I liked how you can post pictures when you blog andalso I like how there is an employee blog and a publicblog. Linking Facebook and Twitter to the blog was a good idea as well.The memo to employees of Culinary Delights was easyto follow because the headings were in bold, and under each heading it explained everything. The video was smooth and professional as well. --Mike Gazarian
ABOUT THE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE FOR OVERSEAS SHIPHOLDING COMPANYI thought your group did a wonderful job. The idea of oversea shipping was interesting.Your site was visually attractive. At first I thought it might be complicated, but the video made it easy to use and understand, which is great for all employees. I felt the memo to the employees was well written and had great flow. It clearly states various purposes of the site and lets employees know how to use the site as a work tool. The only thing I felt was missing was giving employees an incentive to use the site.Another thing I personally would be a little apprehensive about is using the site to discuss issues about disgruntled employees. I would fear the direction that could potentially take, but that is just me. Good job, I really enjoyed it. --Julie Bean
ABOUT THE CAMP-A-LOT WIKIYour video I think has the best volume of all the videos I have listened to and watched so far. The speaker was clear and the voice was the best of all the presentations. The pictures were also good and clear to see. The only thing I did not agree with was the fact that employees can edit and update employees rules. I feel that is out of place because anybody can change the rules to suit their needs. I think that aspect needs to be reconsidered. On the whole it was a good presentation. --Benedicta Ntow
A BRIEF LOOK AT A BLOGHere is the business blog of Culinary Delights, created by the group consisting of Reba Milow Lisa Oakly Danielle Lupu Benedicta Ntow
A BRIEF LOOK AT A SOCIAL NETWORKING SITEHere is the business “social” networking site of Overseas Shipholding Group, created by the group consisting of Rob Walker Mason Thomas Amanda Thomann Richard Rittmeyer
A BRIEF LOOK AT A WIKI Here is the business wiki of Camp-a-Lot RV Resortcreated by the group consisting of Thomas Haner Janelle Huskey Jessica Gulembo Chris Grew
OBSERVATIONS• Today, businesses make extensive use of technology to facilitate communication. However, almost all of my class time focuses on writing.• Therefore, I chose to let my students teach each other how to use some of these communication tools in a group assignment.• I don’t believe my students would have been ready for this assignment even a few years ago.• Now, in groups of 3-5, usually one or more students can create a wiki, social networking site, or blog and then teach the other members of their group how to use it.• Screen capture software as well as the three other kinds of software are now much more user- friendly than they were even a few years ago.• While focusing on only one type of site, students can also learn about the other two types by reviewing the presentations of other groups. And many students also learned how to use the screen-capture software.• The community this mid-semester assignment helped build will enhance the peer editing process of the final projects.