Collaborating in Spirit

The theme of this week’s module was Collaboration and fittingly we were tasked with creating a wiki page with our study group. What struck me upon reflection was how incredibly quick and smooth the whole project came together from conception to execution in just a week’s time. Another interesting fact was that it took place completely online. Previous group collaborations I’ve been involved in at SLAIS have always been tempered by face to face meetings, though this project was completely conducted via e-mail and the wiki page. We didn’t think twice that our five group members were spread across Vancouver, BC; Portland, OR; Charlottetown, PEI; and Sydney, AUS. That’s not to say face to face was not an option these days with Skype or other video chat services, but our team quickly settled on the communication method that worked best and most comfortably for our group.

In the module and discussion threads, our class discussed a number of collaborative tools such as GoogleDocs, DropBox, MixedInk, and Giant Hydra (some familiar to me, some not). ¬†When approaching collaboration, one of the early steps is choosing the right tool not only for the task at hand but for the group members too. Learning the unfamiliar environment and affordances of a particular tool may actually prove to be a barrier to collaboration if that tool is new to some or most of one’s group members. Obviously, the wiki site would be where most of our work would take place, but for communication it was clear that e-mail was best suited for us particularly since we’d be working asynchronously.

So our collaboration went a little like this:

  • The e-mail pitch; tossing around potential topics for the wiki
  • Nodding, agreement, refinement of topic
  • Assignment of duties, playing to everyone’s individual strengths
  • laying down the wiki framework
  • working on assigned sections while also trying to keep an eye on the big picture
  • editing and making sure references were cited properly
  • all the while sharing ideas/links with a lot of “Go team!” mentality

I joked that our pace was seemingly accelerated by that fact that one of our team members was working from the future, but in general the process went so smoothly I felt spoiled. When I think of what contributed to our success, first and foremost was simply our collaborative spirit, an attitude of openness and sharing. It’s this attitude that should carry over into our professional work and that we should strive for organizationally.

Here’s the grand result of of our collaboration: Making a Mashup-Friendly Library.

I look forward to our next group project, which is already in excited early talks of topics and tools to tackle.

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