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Research Reflections

Page history last edited by suifaijohnmak 13 years, 8 months ago

I have just read an interesting book chapter on the difficulties encountered by two large-scale, international, cross-institutional research projects. Their difficulties were around technology, leadership, organisation and collaboration.

 

Deepwell, F. and King, V. (2008) E-Research Collaboration, Conflict and Compromise. In Salmons, J. & Wilson, L. (Eds) Handbook of Research on Electronic Collaboration and Organizational Synergy’. Hershey PA, Information Science Reference 3-17. Available online: http://www.igi-global.com/downloads/excerpts/8003.pdf

 

They carried out their research using two complementary analysis approaches - personal inquiry and the ordered situational map. It seemed to me that what we are doing here could be researched in the same way - that is, that if we keep a log of the process as we go along, then we could well have enough data for a second research project after this one. So I was wondering if you would mind if I used this folder as a place for reflecting on the process - just in case this leads to anything. - And of course, if you want to edit this page in any way or join in - then you would be very welcome. All this of course is quite separate from our research project which I in no way want to jeopardise - so please ignore this and me if it gets in the way.

 

  • Of course I don't mind. For me, this meta-meta learning research would be too much. Yesterday I had a reflection on the process myself: It struck me that I resorted into the (forum-like) comments although it was not suitable for the links and content. Somehow I suddenly felt that the point I had to make should under no circumstances be lost somewhere in the wiki's infinite ramifications. So, forum has certainly the property of the default, or common denominator, Which is more than statement 109 (cf 69) They are familiar – the easy option. 

 

John - I was wondering whether you would be able to rename the folder - research reflections.

 

Here is a summary of the characteristics of good teams (from Zeus, P., Skiffington, S (2003) The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work. By John

 

We may use this as a checklist to evaluate our team's performance.  Do we have?   Rating scale: 1 (Not achieved) - 5 (Highly achieved)

  1. Common purpose - a clear course and a sense of direction provide context and guide the team's actions
  2. Clear and specific goals - have an action plan in place and strategies to achieve the goals
  3. Each member understands and is competent at his or her position - members have complementary skills such as technical expertise, decision-making skills and good interpersonal skills
  4. Open communication channels - information and learning is shared among team members.  Communication is timely, clear and focused on the strategic goals of the research project (or organistion)
  5. Members encourage and support each other.
  6. Flexibility - able to rotate members to other postions; a sharing or shifting of leadership roles
  7. Know and utlilise each members' strengths and know their weaknesses
  8. Mutual trust - share knowledge, experience and ideas on how the team can function more effectively.   Individuals collaborate rather than compete.
  9. Mutual accountability for team results - share the glory; do not apportion blame when things go wrong.  Team members can also work as a team while apart, and can contribute to a sequence of activities rather than a common task that requires their presence in one place at the one time.
  10. Consistency - members can work and perform to their potential on a consistent basis.

 

May I suggest to use this as an exercise to reflect and check how we are doing so far? 

 

 

  Jenny Matthias Roy John
1 3 5
2 3 5
3 4 5
4 5 5
5 5 5
6 4 5
7 5 5
8 5 5
9 5 5
10 3 5
Av 4.5  4.2

 

Which of the above do we need to further improve?

 

How should we improve?  Please suggest strategies.

 

Sorry that my scores are lower than yours - Here is my thinking behind my scores:

 

  1. Common purpose - a clear course and a sense of direction provide context and guide the team's actions I have lost my sense of direction. I now feel that we have two separate research proposals (both very interesting) and I'm not sure whether it's possible to merge them. If it's not possible to merge them, how will we proceed? I could understand your concern.  Roy: Would it be better to separate them into two research proposals? Roy: If you think it could be merged, please advise.  Otherwise, may be we could focus on the original research objectives - blogs versus Moodle forum as learning and communication tools.  And we may be able to post the questionnarie by early to mid April.  We will continue to explore Roy's research proposal through the Ning Community discussion (as Roy has already posted it there,(2009-03-17 I cannot cope with another research project and therefore I don't follow the discussion over there. Matthias) that was fantastic, and I found it thought provoking - good food for thoughts) John

    John, as I see it there are two choices - a) to add some process questions to the questionnaire, in the same or at least a similar format.  I will try to do this in the next few days, and we can see how it fits or doesnt fit.  b) to restructure the research as a whole, to focus strongly on process issues, and affordances. This is ambitious, and would take quite a lot of work.  It would also possibly divert from the good work that has already been done. 

    So I would advocate a), but with some possible softening of the binary opposition between blogs and forums, or at least some attention to the borders between the various options people had during the MOOC.  Its all very well at a conceptual level, so I must get busy and come up with some questions, and we can take it from there. 

         But when the central oppsition is softened, how can the evidence for the hypotheses be established      and defended? (Matthias, 2009-03-17) 

    Sure, I will see if what I can come up with, in terms of some options. I will need to look at the central hypothesis again. 

     

  2. Clear and specific goals - have an action plan in place and strategies to achieve the goals We have an action plan but it doesn't take account of my thoughts about No.1 This is a good challenge to us - the humble 4 to tackle, isn't it?
  3. Each member understands and is competent at his or her position - members have complementary skills such as technical expertise, decision-making skills and good interpersonal skills I think this is a strength of a team and I'm really grateful to be working with this team
  4. Open communication channels - information and learning is shared among team members.  Communication is timely, clear and focused on the strategic goals of the research project (or organistion) This is also a strength of the team
  5. Members encourage and support each other. Very much a strength of the team
  6. Flexibility - able to rotate members to other postions; a sharing or shifting of leadership roles I'm not sure what this means. Since we don't really have any identified roles or responsibilities, it's difficult to answer this one In a pure research group, clear identification of roles and responsibilities are necessary - and that's typical in small formal research team in the University/Institution setting.  But in our virtual 4 voluntary team, I think flexibility means that we must cater for each others' needs first, and we shouldn't be undemocratic in our team formation and too harsh on our expected performance.  As we are really still new in this new virtual team formation and working, we may still need to accustom to each others' style of working.  Jenny: I think you are an expert in educational team leadership and change management - Forming, storming, norming and performing are the basic stages of any team development.  So I suppose that we are already at the performing stage.  Are we?  This is really new (emergent leadership) for all of us, and as we have agreed, we need to keep in focus in this research, but also enjoy together.   Have fun! 
  7. Know and utlilise each members' strengths and know their weaknesses I'm not sure that we know each other well enough to answer this one. I only know what I can see in your posts and even then I'm often not at all sure that I am interpreting you correctly. I am very aware of our cultural differences and that for two of us, English is not the first language.  Thanks for your sincere feedback.  I resonate with your views.  We still need time to know each other well.  I could see that we share common interests, and are passionate in achieving our highest potential throughout our work.  I think it's really hard to work in such a way, especially across such a virtual network, as we have never met each other face to face, or even talked to each other.  Though you and I have tried the skype once, we still might only have some impressions on how we think or work.  I haven't communicated with Matthias and Roy in ways other than writings. Are we the world's first to work in such a way (non-funded, voluntary, and with minimum support in a virtual team)?  I do think so! I think the cultural difference is both a merit and a burden (myth) behind us - it adds value when we collaborate on this project, as we could perceive more broadly and objectively (and globally) based on such differences and feedback.  It could however, add a layer of "barriers" due to mis- interpretation throughout the connections and communication.  However, I have found such barriers always in existence even in the workplace - due mainly to different individual and teams' interests, needs and perspectives.  Also, as I am coming from a different culture other than that of Australia, it has taken me a long time to realise the subtleties between Western and Eastern culture.  I hope I could express myself in an assertive manner in this research project.  Am I sharing my strengths and weaknesses? 
  8. Mutual trust - share knowledge, experience and ideas on how the team can function more effectively.   Individuals collaborate rather than compete. This is a strength of the team. Despite the fact that I'm not sure how well we all know each other, I feel complete trust in members of the team as well as enormous respect
  9. Mutual accountability for team results - share the glory; do not apportion blame when things go wrong.  Team members can also work as a team while apart, and can contribute to a sequence of activities rather than a common task that requires their presence in one place at the one time. We must be a very good example of this
  10. Consistency - members can work and perform to their potential on a consistent basis. I'm not sure what this means. How consistent is consistent? So far, I think we have tried.  Time will tell.  May be we could give each other more chances to show consistency?  Are we self assessing? Are we in par with best practice?  Are professors also doing this?  I don't know!  As Roy has just joined us for a while, may I suggest that we slow down to allow everyone to enjoy?  Let's celebrate on this initial success.  How about a glass of champagne?  Cheers!  :-)  John 

 

General comment: I am very glad to be part of this team, and I think the trust and respect is a crucial part of it.  I am aware that I tend to pull towards process and qualitative, open ended methods, but I regard this as an interesting challenge - to see if I can contribute to a questionnaire design process by incorporating questions which are aimed at providing answers about complex, adaptive behaviour.  I think it can be done.  Let's see. 

 

[I just fixed the item numbers that slipped.] 

 

 

An article on Distributive Leadership  http://www.uow.edu.au/cedir/DistributiveLeadership/docs/GREEN_Report.pdf  I found it a useful reference.

 

 

 

 

Comments (5)

suifaijohnmak said

at 9:02 am on Mar 7, 2009

I like Jenny's suggested research - keeping a log of the process as we go along. This would save us all the time and efforts in recollecting them later.
Matthias, I see you point in the meta-meta learning research would be too much. I share your experience when I was working alone as a researcher, when I was overwhelmed with lots of research data and articles. I had to spent a long time (few months) just to locate those articles and reflect on the process. This was due to the lack of adequate technologies and tools and the "solo" approach towards research. Now, we could colloborate and transform the way research is done. Through mediation with technology and colloboration, we could build and bound ideas more spontaneously and creatively. That's what I would call a new paradigm in research. And when this approach is gradually appreciated by more researchers, then they could realise that research is not a lonely ivory tower activity, but a vibrant and exciting one. This also re-defines the whole concept of community of practice of researchers, as raised by Jenny and echoed by you here (though implicitly). As I used to view things using a system approach, I am always thinking that our research project is part of that changing element. And could be a critical changing agent too!

This is my first impression, and reflection.
I have renamed the folder. Are there anything else that I could do?

suifaijohnmak said

at 9:16 am on Mar 7, 2009

I don't think we are moving in the direction of meta-meta learning research. I thought we are just refining the various parts of the research to suit our needs. I think this is an iterative research methodology. This might be similar to that of the existing practice in the blogosphere. When you create a post on blog/forum - others comment on your post, and you converse with them. Then you will reflect based on those comments. If you like, you will respond with your further explanation, or by asking questions to clarify, or "negotiate" with your readers. You may then modify your ideas, models, etc. That is similarly to what we are doing now, just that this is done amongst us on research.
I am not sure if this research methodology is widely practised or not. But it seems that most researchers might be using such an approach in peer review. What might be needed, though is what Jenny has mentioned, stay focused! And communicate openly to ensure that we are sharing our common goals, and acting upon with agreed actions. And enjoy!
Matthias, have I understood your concern fully? Jenny and Roy, I think you have lots of experience in this area, like to learn your views too!
I think we are also re-refining our model of research through this reflection process, as we move along.
Are we?

Jenny Mackness said

at 9:15 pm on Mar 8, 2009

http://learnoscck08.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/collaboration-techniques/

I have just read this post from Viplav - which I think is relevant to this discussion.



x28de said

at 10:33 pm on Mar 8, 2009

The name "mindquarry" resonates well with how I often see my unpolished contributions: I don't mind if my "building" of thoughts is teared down as long as some blocks serve for new buildings. (In Heidelberg, much of the old town consisted of red sandstones taken from the famous renaissance castle after the French blasted it in 1689.)

As for the articles linked from Viplav, I am not sure. In the periodic table of tools, I think the artificial separation between productivity and collaboration tools is unaccountable and ignores just the very affordance of many web2.0 tools that are originally meant for "scratching your own itch" but indirectly contribute to collaboration. And de Moro (although a close collaborator of the blog research "queen" Lilia) seems to be trapped in typical leftbrainer prejudices: networked communities are FASTER but have LESS structure. I hope we will be able to show that blogging is not faster and does have a structure, but a connectivist one.

suifaijohnmak said

at 6:02 pm on Mar 9, 2009

I still need time to understand the "periodic table" of tools. I didn't quite understand the term mindquarry.
Should we try to use the tools to direct learning or collaboration? I still believe that tools are just enablers in any learning situation - under a learning ecology (and even in collaboration such as our research). One could use any tools in a network or community to suit the members need. But trying to rely on a particular tool and think it is the only best way may cause uncomfortable feelings amongst the community members. A typical example is: everyone should be free to choose their Web 2.0tools such as blogs to suit their PLE. But some common tools like this wiki will assist in the collaboration of research project. However, blogs may not be good enough to serve such research purpose, though blog is an extremely personal reflection and learning tool.
This is MHO.
John

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