As the final weeks of the semester approach, it has become evident that I learned a lot of new and exciting information. I recognize that I appreciate other media platforms more than I used to. For example, I take time to click on new sites that I am not typically comfortable with, like Tumblr, for example. This is a small step in the grand scheme of things, especially compared to individuals who are accustomed to utilizing sites as these on a daily basis. For me personally, I have learned to appreciate different sites from my ‘norm’.
In regards to Second Life, this course has been the only experience I have ever been a part of that actively involves working with others in a virtual world. Having to familiarize myself with this program took a lot of time and commitment to the class, because learning how to ‘live’ and work with others through Second Life was a lot harder than it sounded. One major factor to the program that made communication with others challenging was that Second Life time was different than Akron’s time, which was also behind Dublin’s time zone. Another issue students and myself faced was that the internet connection had a lot to do with whether or not we could communicate with each other or even login to Second Life. Group work was hindered by the fact that the University of Akron’s internet is not always consistent, which resulted in extreme lagging. When voice chatting, verbal communication became greatly distorted.
The hardest obstacle that was purposefully integrated into the course was the group work. Being granted the opportunity to work with students across the Atlantic Ocean was both a challenging and rewarding process. We were five hours behind Ireland time, so deciding upon a specific time to meet was nearly impossible. Also, some group members were not able to attend the Thursday meeting times that the rest of the group were, so there was an extra hurdle each group overcame.
What worked best for our group initially was for members who could attend to meet in Second Life prior to class time to discuss any thoughts and ideas about our topic for the presentation. For about a month, this was a good idea, and we were able to fill in our fourth group member,via Private Facebook Page,about how we decided upon spreading awareness about Mental Health Disorders. The next few weeks flew by and each week we were able to select a new disorder to put in the spotlight. Each member was responsible for posting three articles, blogs,videos and and other media platforms they felt viewers could learn from. However, each week all group members were not able to post the amount of sources they were allotted. By agreeing to three posts per week, we felt that if a group member was having a busy school week with other classes, the amount of posts the rest of the group uploaded would still be enough for the public to read. But each week, when the lack of postings became routine, I felt that only certain members were pulling their weight and others were slacking.
Within the past few weeks, three out of the four members have been working hard to complete our final project. We have been lucky to meet and chat in Second Life, and hearing voices allowed quick conversing and efficient planning. Meeting for short durations in one place at one time resulted in more of a game plan that our Facebook posts ever did, in my opinion because of the quick decision making. We continued to make progress in our presentation without any word from one of our members, but we could not allow to stop our ideas to hear feedback from that member, as we had not in weeks. It was brought up that students from Dublin had more work to complete on their end for this class like a thesis. I understand that this was a large portion of their grade, but our other DIT member had no problem keeping us up to date with her progress and meeting the posting requirements. I was disappointed with the lack of participation, but regardless, had to carry on with the project.
The final steps of the presentation are close to completion, as our group presents in less than 24 hours. Overall, this experience really opened my eyes of all the different ways and obstacles that occur when working as a team. We must be able to have each other’s back, and in turn, they have ours. This came into play when students were unable to participate in the postings for the week, where we made them up the following week. I have learned how to try to minimize any barriers that could potentially become issues that could inhibit communication between members. And finally I learned that it is important to hold group members responsible for their portions of projects. There is only so much helping out that other group members can do before it becomes unfair. Set boundaries ahead of time and hold each other accountable.