Teaching and Learning in Cross-Disciplinary Virtual Teams

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert L. Sanders Ed.D., Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/

Abstract: Virtual teams collaborate across distances using information communication technologies (ICTs). A distinctive set of communication skills is needed by people who work successfully in virtual teams, and few universities or companies provide structured education and training in virtual teamwork. At a midsized southeastern Masters Comprehensive University, professors from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education came together to explore how they might use cross-disciplinary student teams (groups comprised of students with different backgrounds and educational goals) to teach concepts in their own disciplines while providing students with the opportunity to become more pro?cient in virtual team communication. Can cross-disciplinary student team projects successfully support learning in virtual team communication as well as address the learning objectives of speci?c courses? (2) What can faculty learn from a cross-disciplinary teaching model that can be applied to virtual teams? Experiential learning is based on performing real tasks and re?ecting on that process; it bene?ts learners by engaging them in complex, authentic situations. Virtual teams are signi?cant because they support a great deal of the work currently taking place in our global economy; they are signi?cant in higher education because students need to develop skills in international virtual communication before they are introduced to high-stakes work environments. In previous cases, students have collaborated across national cultures to develop project deliverables, such as websites, reports, and usability studies and present them in virtual environments using such tools as WebEx, Skype, and live streaming. The ?ndings from this case are based on individual student re?ections, which were used to create a data matrix for each project, and instructor observation and evaluation. In Spring 2013, six faculty from the same university worked together to incorporate virtual teams into their classrooms. These six faculty members were divided into two groups of three with each group representing three colleges mentioned earlier. The faculty developed two interdisciplinary projects (one on infographics and another on social media) that enabled rich and diverse student collaboration. In both groups, the three faculty leaders worked together to de?ne a project scope that students could achieve and that would relate to learning goals in each discipline. The lessons learned from this experience are that: (1) technical challenges will occur; (2) students from all disciplines must receive the same information; (3) instructors must balance respect for their colleagues and support for their students; (4) team assignments need to be consistent and fair; (5) instructors need to establish appropriate and fair assessment measurements for their own students; and (6) projects need to be realistic in order to show the students the value of virtual work

Additional Information

Robert Sanders, Alanah Mitchell, Robert Sanders, Paul Wallace David D. Wood & Pam Brewer (2015) "Teaching and Learning in Cross-Disciplinary Virtual Teams" IEEE Transactions On Professional Communication Vol. 58 #2 pp. 208-229 (ISSN 0361-1434) Version of Record Available @ www.ieee.org
Language: English
Date: 2015
Cross-disciplinary, experiential learning, multiple disciplines, teaching case, virtual teams, virtual teamwork, virtual world.

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