Student Snippets


Group Work Thoughts

My family and I have been spending the kids' spring break down in southwestern Virginia at my parents' house and absolutely loving it. Spring is farther along in Virginia than it is up in Connecticut and all the burgeoning green and flowering trees are simply gorgeous. This trip has been so good for my soul. Having grown up in small towns and fresh country air I honestly feel suffocated living along the crowded, overdeveloped I-95 corridor. If I couldn't get out every now and then I think I'd burst.

Anyway, we are one week closer to the end of the semester with just about two weeks left of class! Things aren't exactly winding down yet, but I'm hoping that having the end in sight will give me the strength to get through this last final push. One thing is wrapping up though, and that's my group project for the Metadata class. We'll be turning it in this week and viewing the presentations of the other groups for class. I used to hate group projects in high school and undergrad, but I've gained a new appreciation for them while at Simmons. Why has this happened? For one thing, you're faced with the realization that these group projects imitate real life and prepare you for collaboration on the job. For another thing, your classmates and instructors are more like colleagues and everyone seems to care more and take greater responsibility for their own work. Still, a group project can feel like a bit of a gamble. You may be randomly assigned to your team and/or topic and expected to adapt to whatever team dynamic results.

Fortunately, I found this latest experience quite rewarding. We had to create a 20-minute presentation video consisting of slides with voiceover narrative and some sample records using the metadata standard we'd been assigned. There didn't seem to be a good way to equitably divide up the work between five people, so we essentially all worked together on most of it using shared documents and shared slides. This "committee style" approach worked well for our group, because everyone seemed equally committed and willing to take responsibility. I would like to put a plug in for using video conferencing as opposed to just audio or text chat. We were a little shy and reluctant at first to turn on our webcams and talk face-to-face, but those video meetings were far more productive than our text-only ones and it really helped to put faces to names. Communication is so much better "in person," even if it's over an internet connection. My tip for the week is: next time you find yourself working virtually with a group, suggest video chat!

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