Monday, 31 December 2012

There's no 'I' in team-is there!

I hope that everyone has had a good Christmas? I have had a quite an interesting one! My daughter-in-law is 8 months pregnant and as they live in Manchester, we live in Witney and her parents live in Brighton, we decided to take Christmas to them. Well at least a little nearer! We decided to rent a large house in the country near Macclesfield within commutable distance from Manchester. Gradually over the weekend before Christmas we all arrived from our different parts of England. There was to be 12 of us in total for Christmas dinner and I was delegated to cook the turkey! The whole dinner was to be a team effort and was very capably co-ordinated by my daughter-in-law, who is never happier than when she's organising things. My Christmas would have been extremely enjoyable and relatively stress free if the Open University in all their wisdom hadn't decided that over the Christmas period we should do an exercise in team work!

To say that this would have been a challenge at any time of the year would most definitely be an understatement, but at Christmas, I ask you! This involved us being put into teams of about 7 by our tutor and communicating entirely via an on-line forum, we were to construct a wiki, again entirely on-line, as a group. Everyone was dreading it, but assured by our tutor that it would be fine, after all it was only a 1000 word limit, I decided to give it my best shot.

 Going back to Christmas dinner, not knowing what the cooking facilities at the barn were like, I decided on cooking 3 turkey crowns instead of 1 large bird. It's just as well I did! There was only 1 small oven and a fridge freezer that would struggle to fulfil the needs of a family of 4 at Christmas, let alone 12 of us. Undaunted, we employed typical British Bulldog ingenuity and commandeering the cars and cool bags as temporary fridges we survived the week without a single case of food poisoning! The turkey crowns were cooked on Christmas eve and stored in a cool bag in our car overnight, leaving the oven free for cooking the roast veggies and kilted sausages or pigs in blankets.The rest of the week's catering continued in the same vein with our combined skills and 'make-do and mend; solutions ensuring that we all had more than enough food and a great time was had by all. All that is apart from me who was too stressed out by the wiki to really enjoy it all. I did declare an amnesty on Christmas and Boxing day, promising to try not to think about it as there was nothing I could do anyway.

Back to the wiki, (must I)! The first week in December we were all meant to be introducing ourselves to the rest of our teams via the wiki forum. By the beginning of the second week i emailed my tutor to say that there seemed to be only 2 of us in the team. After a gentle nudge by the tutor, by the end of the second week there were 6 of us. the team work went like this. we had to choose 2 texts to write about from a choice of 5. I ended up choosing the texts. We were then supposed to choose which part of the wiki we would each be doing. There were plenty volunteers to proof read, edit and do the Bibliography, plus 1 willing to do whatever, but no-one volunteered to do the question itself!

Still trying to be optimistic, I activated the wiki page by typing in the question and writing an introduction. I then posted on the forum asking for others to help with writing the rest of the wiki. Long story, short. Before I left to go to Macclesfield I had written half of one question and a second team member had contributed to a third of the other one. I had said on the forum that it would be good to have most of it done before Christmas and everyone agreed but did nothing about it. Still trying to be optimistic I hoped that once Christmas was over they would miraculously appear and it would be a triumph of team work. Sadly this was not to be. As I am writing this blog, I've completely written one of the options, finished the other one, written the conclusion and the Bibliography. Then to add insult to injury, suddenly the forum has come alive with people offering to edit and pointing out a few grammatical errors I've made!!!!!!!

I have to now write a reflective piece about how I found the experience of working as a team. No swear words allowed! If asked to name 2 things I have gained from this experience is 1. an increase in the amount in my swear box and 2. an increase in my alcohol consumption lol! Perhaps the next time the Open University decide to have us do a wiki it should involve food. After all, the Christmas catering was a triumph in team work.

Never mind, it's behind me now-or is it? Apparently the next module of my course has a wiki element aaaarrrgggghhhhhhhhh! Still nothing I can do about it today, so Happy New Year everyone!

Update. My next Wiki went like a dream. I was lucky enough to be put with a group of students who were as eager to make it work. We did have a few problems, but with a bit, well a lot, of diplomacy on my part, we ironed them out.

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