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Creating Virtual Learning Communities - Theory of Groups

Group Presentation

Brian MacAusland

on 28 June 2014

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Transcript of Creating Virtual Learning Communities - Theory of Groups

EDER 631.04 Group Presentation

Creating Virtual Learning Communities
How We Communicated
What we aspired to....
What we
aspire to
For example...
As we moved through the course, many of the assigned concepts for each chapter resonated with and reflected our unfolding group experience...
Meet Our


Increasingly, workplaces are seeking to train employees by offering professional development opportunities virtually rather than face-to-face. One alternative to address this difficulty is to introduce virtual graduate courses using personal computers and a learning software such as Blackboard and Elluminate. How can this technology best be used to create a sense of a group learning experience for participants in virtual classrooms?

Your consultant group is asked to create a study that will examine this issue amongst workplace graduate learners within this program. While the requirement is to develop a team plan for research, the immediate need is for the project team to come together in a team, to identify how they can work together an understanding of the phenomenon, develop a plan of action, and provide recommendations to address the issue(s) raised in the problem statement.

Michael Duclos

Will Couture

Brian MacAusland

Sylvia Geiss

Principal, Mackenzie Mountain School
Town of Norman Wells
Michael Duclos
Organisation Effectiveness Consultant, Shell Canada,

Will Couture
Medical Dosimetrist
Jack Ady Cancer Centre
Brian MacAusland
Sylvia Geiss
Coach & Consultant
Project 1: Creating Virtual Learning Communities
May 11th
I would love to work with someone on this! Perhaps we can look at the casperfocus but I'm open to suggestions! Michael

May 13
Hi Michael, I'd like to sign up for this as well.  Looking forward to working with you.

The Group Experience:
Very Early Beginnings...
May 13th
Sounds Great Brian!
May 16th
Hi Michael & Brian,
Would you mind if I join your group?

May 18th
Hi Folks,
You mind if I jump on board as well? This would make a group of 4.

Has anyone tried
Google Hangouts?
Hey Sylvia et al.,
I haven't used Google hangouts but a colleague uses it all the time for book clubs. Shall we decide on a time this weekend to virtually meet? I think there is a certain amount of irony in the fact that we are doing our project on virtual learning communities but are having trouble coordinating our own... LOL

Hi everyone, I've never used Google Hangouts but I'm happy to give it a try...

As for the project itself, my thought is that it would probably be best to divvy the workload by sections (dibs on title page) with some specified dates along the way to update each other and discuss.

As for this weekend, I should be available any time. How about Saturday 1-2pm?

Uploaded on 16 Apr 2008.
World's costliest ad - amazing team work. This ad cost around 6.2 million US Dollars and 602 takes and retakes. No graphics. It also won best ad of the year.
Google Hangouts
Brian Caricature: http://www.tamingthebeast.net/images/white-caricature.jpg

Dilbert leader: http://www.manageprojectsonsharepoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/129760032984549839_fFMfDQ5y_c.jpg

Dilbert: http://dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/100000/00000/8000/700/108774/108774.strip.sunday.gif

Equilibrium Theory graphic: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805215/64731/

Forming a Team graphic: http://www.strategosinc.com/images/formingstorming.jpg

Google Hangouts graphic: http://2fm9xz2drvqemrbu.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/google-hangouts.jpg

Google Hangouts icon: https://www.google.ca/search?q=google+hangout&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ryWpU6OpCJDvoASThoHABw&sqi=2&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAw&biw=1579&bih=746#facrc=0%3Bgoogle%20hangout%20icon&imgdii=_&imgrc=_

Johnson, F. & Johnson, D. (2013). Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Keep Calm and Power On: http://static.wixstatic.com/media/a2a8ae_8a9dd895fde947528d41db3515c5343d.jpg

Leadership wordle: http://www.thelivingleader.com/wp-content/uploads/leadership.jpg

Mike Caricature: http://www.osoq.com/caricatures/gift-caricatures-images/200x200/807184.jpg

Pack leader: http://www.sophiesdogadoption.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/funny-dog-pictures-dog-does-not-accept-your-leadership.jpg

Personal Power Now: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kIh9Oa4P-Yc/UHCldKZ0w-I/AAAAAAAAABk/51_4oPn00Sk/s1600/PersonalPowerNow2.jpg

Points of Power: http://education-portal.com/cimages/multimages/16/Types_of_Power.gif

Sylvia Caricature: http://www.funfaces.com/Caric/Color/clrf1.jpg

What is your leadership style? http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-LjZBXyLjGQs/Ua4ZLMPLxbI/AAAAAAAAC70/67mivCpRph4/s1600/Leadership-Style.jpg

Will Caricature: http://www.osoq.com/caricatures/gift-caricatures-images/200x200/807215.jpg

YouTube - Jack Canfield: Personal Power:

Or, put in a more fun way...
Keys to an online learning community
Chapter 7

Thankfully I think the concept that best describes our groups’ decision making process is
. Consensus simply means that we all agree on the same course of action. It requires a significant investment of time and openness in communication. Among the characteristics necessary for reaching consensus outlined by Johnson & Johnson (2013) are seeking out differences of opinion, changing one’s mind when logically persuaded, and keeping the goal of reaching the best decision salient. Other features are ensuring that all group members are able to participate fully, and acceptance of and exploration of differing opinions.

I felt all members of our group had significant knowledge and experience to contribute, but nonetheless approached group interactions with openness to and interest in what the other members were offering. Meeting were respectful and articulate, opinions shared, minds changed, and decisions made collaboratively. The only thing in the description of consensus that did not occur within our group was conflict. This may reflect the experience we have accumulated to this point in the Med program. Another factor may be that we felt that there was sufficient time to make the right decision and so any potential conflicts were replaced with discussion. Overall, I feel that our group was respectful, experienced, mature, and focused, resulting in an effective consensus decision making process.

Chapter 8
Chapter 9
A conflict is a fight, struggle, a disagreement, etc. I think it would be a stretch to say that our group experienced conflict in the sense that most people think of it. However, we certainly did not avoid them. The forms of conflict that we experienced were subdued…disagreements, offering an alternative idea or opinion. However, these “conflicts” never escalated because I think each member of the group held a conflict-positive perspective, embracing the potential inherent in conflict. Each member, I believe, viewed conflict as an opportunity for increased understanding and the generation and expansion of ideas.

Conflict can be constructive, creative, and progressive. To be these things however, a group must have certain characteristics. In our meetings, members would often seek to clarify, reframe, or supplement the contribution of another member. Rather than being offended and defensive, this process was productive and positive. Group members demonstrated respect, maturity, openness, and interest in others. Other factors that likely facilitated a constructive rather than destructive form of conflict within the group was our groups’ ability to communicate and our positive interdependence. Consensus building will inevitable present conflict within any group. However, within our group these conflicts presented an opportunity to build toward our goal.

This chapter covers controversy and creativity…and I can’t recall a moment of controversy in any of our discussions, although there was significant creativity. Creativity is formed through discussion, sharing of ideas, differing opinions, etc. However, although group members had different ideas and opinions, there was no controversy. Instead our group had significant open-mindedness in which we all felt free to provide an opinion or make a suggestion and expect that the others would consider it thoughtfully or add to it. As Johnson & Johnson state, open-minded groups:

(1) seek out opposing and differing beliefs
(2) discover new beliefs
(3) remember and consider information that disagrees with currently held beliefs
(4) organize new beliefs to solve the problem.

Our group met all of these criteria. Every member of the group was willing to hear the views of others and in turn felt safe to offer their own. This openness facilitated negotiation of what tasks we would each perform, to develop and expand on ideas about the project, and finally in making decisions. Controversy may have been absent but creativity was not, and it was enhanced by the openness demonstrated by each member of the group.

Conflict Positive Group

Interdependence: A group may be defined as a collection of individuals who are interdependent in some way. According to this definition, the individuals are not a group unless an event that affects one of the me affects them all (Johnson and Johnson p. 6).

Our group recognized the interdependence of members early on. We did this by understanding and leveraging personal interests and skills when identifying which segments of the consultant report each member would take on. Here’s how we divided it all up…

Chapter 2

Participant Observer: A participant-observer is a person who is skilled enough to both participate in group work and observe group process at the same time. When a group is working, a distinction is commonly made between:
Content: What is being discussed in order to achieve the group’s goals

Process: The sequence of group members’ actions that take place over time and are aimed at achieving the group’s goal.

In hindsight, this seems to be a lost opportunity for the group. Given the nature of this presentation (Group Presentation of Group Processes During Preparation of Assignment 3), conscious observation of our group in action could have produced some helpful learning as well as valuable insight on this particular piece of work. The occasional pause for reflection might have allowed for deeper understanding of the concepts used in the text. If we were to do this over again, focusing on a couple of concepts to practice each week as a group could have produced a richer learning experience for all.

Chapter 3

Process gain: Process gain occurs when new ideas, solutions, or efforts are generated through group interactions; these ideas, solutions, or efforts are not generated when persons work individually. In cooperative groups, members more frequently generate ideas, strategies, and solutions than they would think of on their own. Process loss occurs when fewer ideas, fewer solutions, and less effort on a learning or problem-solving task are generated within groups than by persons working individualistically. (Johnson and Johnson p. 95).

Our group certainly came out on the side of process gain. Our first meeting was characterized by sharing our personal understanding of our report topic until we arrived at a collective interpretation. There were several nuances that each of us picked up to form our overarching approach. Likewise, there were several approaches proposed on how best to explore the topic. We each shared our perspectives and experience and weighed these against the commonly agreed topic for best fit. No idea was rejected, as long as there were some substantiating arguments to prop it up. I estimate most of our first 90-minute meeting was spent on establishing a strong topic that we felt had sufficient depth and scope. In the end, we chose a topic that focused on establishing presence in virtual learning communities. This approach continued even after dividing up the report’s content amongst us individually. Each week we’d share our individual progress with the group and receive additional resources and perspective we wouldn’t have achieved independently.

D i v e r s i t y

•Diversity is something that must be valued and celebrated in any group or team setting. It is beneficial because it “decreases stereotyping and prejudice, increases positiveness of relationships, renews the vitality of society, increases achievement and productivity, increases creative problem solving, fosters growth in cognitive and moral reasoning, fosters perspective taking, and building a commitment to democracy” (Johnson & Johnson, 2013 p. 415).

•Online learning enables for a broader range of people from all different geographical locations to work together. The regular assumptions that people make about appearance or race/ethnicity/gender/etc. are largely omitted from the learning.

•We were certainly a geographically diverse bunch in the group but more pertinent is the fact that we all value diversity and so we were able to better work with one another.

Cooperative Learning

•Formal Cooperative Learning is basically working well with one another to ensure that success is obtained in a group through planning and execution.

•Leader becomes “a guide on the side” instead of “a sage on the stage” (Johnson & Johnson, 2013 p. 449).

•Decisions are made prior to actual learning execution and learning is monitored by leader throughout process.

•Our group capitalized on formal cooperative learning via google hangouts. We were able to communicate together as if we were in the same room and complete important tasks such as decision making, and leadership. This format really took a lot of stress out of geographical issues through the power of simulated face-to-face meetings. The irony is that we actually all learned about formal cooperative learning online while doing an assignment on online learning. We became pros at our our learning process through the interactions.


•Electronically linked teams “tends to be more equalized and less affected by prestige and status” (Johnson & Johnson, 2013 p. 502).

•Members also feel more free to express opinions and ideas as there seems to be some sort of extra separation that online meetings provides (p. 502).

•Team building in this course played a huge role in our group processes throughout. Because we were able to “meet” virtually, our team worked completely seamlessly. There was a sense of cohesion felt by all members that we have never felt before in an online course. It was refreshing, having all of us coming from different career fields and with various amounts of experience, to be able to build a team for learning so quickly.

•We were not always cognizant of the team building going on throughout but through the online interface we bonded and have created some truly amazing pieces.

•Throughout the learning we took breaks to metacognitively reflect on our team processes and progress.

Chapter 4
Communication within Groups

Our group

communicated effectively
Between our Google Hangout sessions on the weekends we sent cc’d: emails back and forth to keep everyone in the loop. We had

open and circle decentralized networks of communication

The only

that we sometimes experienced occurred when we lost audio in Google Hangouts. We used

humour and banter
whether it was using application features such as costume accessories and sound effects or sharing anecdotes.

During our f2f sessions there seemed to be an ebb and flow of conversation where we listened to each other, shared opinions, and offered feedback. There was good

two-way communication

There was also a casualness that permeated throughout our communication; Brian’s cat took part, Mike’s child said hi, Will’s family members came home with groceries, and I had a poodle on my lap sometimes. We all felt comfortable about being authentic while drinking our coffees together as we chatted. We had a lot of fun working together. We seemed to demonstrate a very good example of the
equilibrium theory

all demonstrated
skills in a
democratic leadership style
shared in group discussions and decisions
encouraged and helped each other while being considerate of each others’ feelings and needs
shared in
initiating structure
and participated in
leadership because there was always reciprocal interaction
shared in the
offered different functions at different times

Johnson and Johnson (2013)
state, “… any member provides leadership when he or she engages in an action that helps the group complete its goals and maintain effective working relationships, or arranges for someone else to engage in the needed functions” (p. 186). We were
S3’s and M4’s
according to the Hersey and Blanchard leadership styles and maturity levels. Participating was our main approach.
Using Power

We em
ed each other. According to Coleman and Tjosvold (2000), “Power is defined as the capacity to affect the outcomes of oneself, others, and the environment” (as cited in Johnson & Johnson, 2013, p. 205). Ours was very much
constructive power
from the
dynamic interdependence
view of power in a
cooperative context
. We all made efforts to “maximize joint benefits and enhance the group’s effectiveness” (p. 209).

We had
expert power
informational power;
Brian was our Prezi expert, Mike was our cartoon and Camtasia expert, Will was our real-world examples expert, and I was our meta-overview and coordinator expert.

We didn't really discuss our
groups norms
; however, we seemed to establish a benevolent undercurrent of expectations that we all met and we adhered to kindness, respect, and politeness.
Chapter 1

Norms: Norms are the rules, implicit or explicit, established by groups to regulate the behaviour of all members. Norms tell the group members how to behave, or how not to behave, in various situations. In short, the norms of a group are the group’s common belief regarding appropriate behaviour, attitudes, and perceptions of its members.

Formally, our group set out some specific norms around performance. These included type of grade we aspired to achieve on both the report and presentation, the frequency of our meetings, and an agreement for a rotating meeting chairperson and agenda. These latter norms did not get much traction. Its intention was to keep us on task such that we did not spend too much time on tangents. My assessment is that we didn’t care too much if we got off track. We always came back to the task at hand in fairly short order.

Informally, the group developed a norm for sharing information outside of our regular Google connects. These would include updates, and the sharing of resources and ideas. During our meetings there was always time for all voices to be heard. In our last meeting we all reflected on how cooperative and inclusive the group was. This engendered a sense of ownership and pride in the work we were doing.

Brian Cover noting the names of Consultants (1)

Sylvia Setting the Stage: Recapping the project (1)

Will Assumptions & Philosophy for the Proposed Study (3)

Mike Roles & Responsibilities for the Proposed Study (2)

Brian Research Plan for the Proposed Study (2)

Will Supportive Arguments for the Proposed Study (2)

Brian Limitations for the Proposed Study (2)

Sylvia Detailed Timeline for the Proposed Study (2)

Sylvia Budgetary Costs for the Proposed Study (1)

Sylvia Recommendations for the Proposed Study (1)

Mike References + Overall editing of the report (3)
Owner Section (# of Pages)
Experiential Learning

Group goals, Interdependence, and Trust
Chapter 5
(wave mouse over lower left-hand corner to show play button to see us in action)
Google Hangout Sessions

1st - Saturday, May 24th
– worked out tech stuff, spent some time getting to know each other, decided on our goals and direction, and divvied up the work.

2nd - Saturday, May 31st
– Had some fun with the bells & whistles in Google Hangout, explored and scoped out our topic a little more, made more decisions about what our proposal should look like, and answered each other’s questions.

3rd - Saturday, June 7th – Cancelled due to tech, parenting, timing, and general busy-life challenges. It was rather synergistic actually; we all seemed to have something that got in the way that day. Decided to switch to Sundays.

4th – Sunday, June 15th -
Norming & more Performing
– reviewed everyone’s contribution to the Google Drive Doc that we used for one-stop-shop collaboration, focussed on the granular details and specifics.

5th – Sunday, June 22nd
– finalized the details for our proposal and proceeded to nail down the specifics for this presentation. This final session lasted less than an hour; we were efficient and effective as a team and ended it with all-round clarity about next steps and deadlines.

We all wondered as we progressed through our weeks working on our project whether or not we would hit the
stage. According to Will’s previous experience, some groups go through that stage at the end. Really? Hmmm…nah…can’t see it happening with us. At least we didn’t have many of these issues - just a few. Enjoy this optional video. http://twentytwowords.com/2014/01/23/what-if-the-annoyances-of-conference-calls-happened-in-real-life-meetings-painfully-accurateand-hilarious/

Our Sessions...

If you would like to view the transcript of our presentation it`s available below the Prezi.
Full transcript