Group Work

This week’s blog is on group work. One of the hardest things to do in either a work or educational environment, is to work collaboratively in a group. It is even more difficult when the group members are in different locations and all collaboration must be done electronically. The same types of problems almost always occur when I have worked in this type of environment. Some of the common ones include:

  1. The Hostile Takeover – A collaborator taking control of the process and forcing their agenda down the teammate’s throat.
  2. The Slacker – A collaborator hiding in the group doing as little as possible.
  3. Unclear on the Concept – A hard worker who goes off on their own, does lots of work, but it does not match the vision of the rest of the group.
  4. The Disagree-er – A collaborator who disagrees with everyone’s ideas but does not come up with any of their own.

I have to admit that I sometimes fall unknowingly into the Hostile Takeover category. It’s not that I intentionally mean to force my ideas on other people it’s just that I often think I know best. However, one piece of advice that one of my college instructors recently gave me was to “check your ego at the door” when doing group work. This advice resonated with me because of the guilt I have felt in the past when I failed to listen to other people’s ideas. We all bring different knowledge, skills, and abilities to the table. We only get the most out of a group when we listen to all voices and build consensus.

Content Curation

This week’s blog is on content curation. I was assigned to teach this topic online for a course I am taking at UMass Boston on the Design and Instruction of Online Courses (INSDSG 684). To be honest, I only had a vague idea of what content curation was before this assignment. I thought it was something librarians do to categorize and store the vast amount of physical information in their collection. After some initial research I found that content curation is a thriving industry for corporate marketing, education, museums/art galleries, and hobbyist. For those of you that are a little unclear on the subject, here is a loose definition.

Content curation is the process of sorting through vast amounts of content and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around specific themes or topics. The work involves sifting, sorting, evaluating, arranging, and sharing/publishing information. The content can either be physical (e.g. books, periodicals, research papers etc.) or digital (e.g. blogs, post, e-journals, etc.).

Now there are some very powerful free/low cost tools for the collaborative creation, storage, and sharing of electronic content (e.g. Google Docs and Dropbox). However, when I tried to identify tools for finding high quality content for education and instructional design I was bewildered by the share number of services available. After searching countless websites and watching several Youtube videos, I discovered that almost all of these services (e.g. Scoop.it, Feedly, Swayy ect.) are marketing tools designed to search social media for what’s trending in a particular markets segment. The best site I could identify for educational material was OER Commons (https://www.oercommons.org/) which is one of the few services to find and share open educational resources (OER) and free instructional material. With a single point of access OER Commons helps educators, students, and life-long learners find high quality open source educational content. If you are aware of other content search and management tools for education please tells us about them in the comments section of this blog (please provide a URL to the site).