Guest Blogger: Jeffery Null, Nathan M. Bisk College of Business student
X-Culture was a great experience after all was said and done. I got to meet and learn from some really great people from all over the world; we all remain Facebook friends. Everyone participated actively throughout the project, and helped generate really great ideas. In the beginning, we all introduced ourselves via email, gathering other preferred contact information. Most of our communication after that point was through Facebook and Skype, as it allowed for real-time discussions. Although everyone communicated clearly in English via these media, it was somewhat challenging to organize group meetings due to the vast time differences between geographic locations. As a result, many discussions took place one-on-one, or in smaller groups of three or four people, and then email was used to send group messages summarizing the results of these discussions to the rest of the team. In addition to these communications, weekly email updates were used to keep the team on schedule and remind everyone of important upcoming dates.
I think the single biggest challenge, aside from choosing our topic, was compiling a single, cohesive report. Everyone volunteered for two required sections that interested them and had clearly outlined guidelines for these sections as provided by the student instructions. I thought everything was pretty clear; however, when people began to submit their individual sections to the group Dropbox, there were greatly varying understandings of the required material, and quality. I was surprised to find that almost no one knew how to correctly cite resources used in their research. In addition, I found that one or two members had clearly misunderstood the point of their sections, or had completely copied and pasted other resources. Unfortunately by the time this came to light, the team only had one week to correct these problems, which made for a very busy week. What I learned is that while I assumed that everyone understood what they needed to do, or would ask questions if they did not, this was clearly not the case. Thus, if I had to do this project over again, I would spend more time early on talking with each individual about his or her understanding of their portions of the project. Not only would this have helped eliminate “holes” in the paper, but it would have ensured less editing in the final week before submission.
Despite the challenges, I think the final product turned out pretty well. I still think it could have been better, but the important thing is that I learned a great deal about what can potentially go wrong when working with a global virtual team, and how to avoid, or minimize these problems in the future; this, I think was more the point of the project than the actual report. As a whole, the X-Culture project was an invaluable learning experience in which I had a great time meeting new people, and developing global friendships.