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Teaching Online in Texts and Technology

About the Author

Brian Rapp is a PHD student in the Texts and Technology program at UCF.  He has been teaching online since 2006.  

Research Guide (by Brian Rapp)

About the Resources in this Guide

The following sources are meant to be a suggestive list that can be used as a starting point for understanding how collaboration is becoming more important in online education.  The sources include articles from academic journals, scholarly books, as well as a DVD produced by Frontline.  

1.)  Bender, Tisha.  Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning (2nd Ed.).  Sterling, VA:  Stylus, 2012.  Print.  

In chapter 8, Bender analyzes aspects of collaboration such as optimal group size, how groups and roles are assigned, and various activities.  She also analyzes various synchronous online tools that can be used, such as Skype, and also the benefits of online guest lectures.  

2.)  Cuevas, Haydee M., and Stephen M. Fiore, Eduardo Salas, and Clint A. Bowers.  “Virtual Teams as Sociotechnical Systems.”  Virtual and Collaborative Teams: Process, Technologies and Practice.  Ed. Susan H. Godar and Sharmila Pixy Ferris.  Hershey, PA:  Idea Group, 2004. 1-19.  Print.

In this article, the authors take a sociotechnical systems approach (focusing on personnel, technology, and environmental factors) to virtual team performance and argue that the technical subsystem can play a larger part of team performance—attitudes and behaviors—in distributed environments than in collocated ones (a phenomenon the authors refer to as team opacity).  The authors discuss pre-process, in-process, and post-process interventions to improve communication strategies.  

3.)  "Digital Nation."  Frontline.  Dir. Rachel Dretzin.  Writ. Rachel Dretzin and Douglas Rushkoff.  PBS, 2010.  DVD.  

Here is the URL:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/

In the chapter titled "Virtual Worlds," Rushkoff looks at Second Life and how businesses are using it as a replacement for F2F meetings.  The segment explores how programs such as Second Life are used more in education and the business world doing this in order to save money and for convenience purposes.  

4.)  Evans, Jenell.  "8 Tips for Effective Virtual Teams: How to Work with People That You Already See."  Psychology Today 4 April 2011.  Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

In this article, Evans identifies some of the problems that exist in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, as well as some tips on ways to overcome them.  The tips are based on research and experience with clients, and they are given for anyone leading or participating in a virtual team.  

5.)  Gefen, David, Nitza Geri, and Narasimha Paravastu.  “Vive la Différence: Communicating Across Cultural Boundaries in Cross-Gender Online Collaborative Discussions.”  Virtual Team Leadership and Collaborative Engineering Advancements: Contemporary Issues and Implications.  Ed. Ned Kock.  Hershey, PA:  IGI Global, 2009.  1-12.  Web. 17 Feb. 2014.   

Studying how people use language, this article takes a sociolinguistic approach to argue that there is a cross-cultural aspect to Information Communications Technologies for people within the same culture.  It explores how gender-based cultural patterns emerge in online classes, finding that males and females communicate differently with both one another and with members of their own sex, which can have an impact on how classes function and how students collaborate.

6.)  Oertig, Margaret, and Thomas Buergi.   "Fostering Creativity in Global Virtual Teams: Conversations with Team Leaders."  Higher Creativity for Virtual Teams: Developing Platforms for Co-Creation.  Eds. Steven P. Macgregor and Teresa Torres-Coronas.  Hershey, PA:  Information Science, 2007.  123-137.  Print.  

This article presents insights and observations from global team leaders (six people, from various countries) on some of the challenges in fostering creativity in virtual teams.  It provides information on important factors such as team formation, group dynamics, and how cultural differences affect collaboration.  

7.)  Olson, Judith S., and Gary M. Olson.  Working Together Apart: Collaboration Over the Internet.  San Rafael, CA:  Morgan and Claypool, 2014.  Web. 15 Feb. 2014.  

One problem with virtual teams, according to these authors in chapter 7, is that many people are not naturally, what they call, "collaborative ready."  Teams work best when members have good communicative skills and when there is not an extrovert who tries to dominate the conversation, and the authors list three specific types of trust and discuss, what they call, "collective self-efficacy."  

8.)  St. Amant, Kirk.  "Culture, Context, and Cyberspace: Rethinking Identity and Credibility in International Virtual Teams."  New Media and International Communication: Identity, Community and Politics.  Eds. Pauline Hope Cheong, Judith N. Martin, and Leah P. Macfadyen.  New York:  Peter Lang, 2012.  75-89.  Print.  

In this chapter, Amant explores cross-cultural communication and reviews how  context affects cultural expectations and how the notion of identity can govern context.  He also analyzes how online media can create identity-related challenges that affect online group interactions, and discusses the importance of "context" and the globalized, evolving virtual workplace.  

9.)  Vai, Marjorie, and Kristen Sosulski.  Essentials of Online Course Design: A Standards-Based Guide.  New York:  Routledge, 2011.  Print.

In their chapter on working collaboratively, the authors claim that there are six basic activities with regards to virtual teams: 1.) Class discussion; 2.) Journal writing; 3.)  Shared knowledge base; 4.) Practice exercises; 5.) Projects; and 6.) Receptive activities (81).  They provide definitions for each of these and how educators use them.  

10.)  Zigurs, Ilze, and Deepak Khazanchi.  “Applying Pattern Theory in the Effective Management of Virtual Projects.” Virtual Team Leadership and Collaborative Engineering Advancements:  Contemporary Issues and Implications.  Ed. Ned Kock.  Hershey, PA:  IGI Global, 2009.  Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

In this article, the authors offer a theoretical frame of patterns to propose a unified view of improvement with virtual teams, focusing on three underlying elements: coordination, communication, and control.  Using focus groups, they find it useful to schedule periodic conferences using technology, and for educators to assign teams whose members are all in the same time zone when possible.