Personal insights on teamwork from RRU learners
Working in a team requires a lot of practice. Even when teamwork has been explicitly taught and practiced in Residence, once learners are home and have to cope with the pressure of online course work along with family and job responsibilities the newly-learned skills can easily be ignored in favour of a more comfortable and practiced way of working. Some learners may view specific team roles as irrelevant in the context of the online assignments.
When dealing with the pressure of trying to get a project done, it is very tempting to ignore the importance of team process and jump straight to the task. This is especially true for people tend to be task-oriented and are unaccustomed to attending to process. Bailey and Luetkehans (1998) verify this tendency in their research that indicates that online teams tend to focus more on the task than on team process, and that maintenance roles may not be performed until conflict arises.
It is difficult to work as a team online without regular synchronous meetings. Some RRU teams have found that synchronous text chat works for them, while others require voice contact. The larger the team, the more important it is to establish a "speaking" order so that everyone gets heard. An agenda, sent to everyone well before the meeting, is essential. At the very least, the meeting needs a facilitator, a recorder, and a timekeeper.
Team formation online takes time and energy. Requiring your students to form and re-form teams during a single course takes away from the time and energy they have to devote to learning the material.