Guest Blogger: Taylor Smith
My experience with the X-Culture project definitely has a positive note. There were some glitches along the way, but my team made sure to make them work. At first I was very nervous to meet my team. I get very nervous meeting people for the first time, and I had some reservations with using Skype or talking on the phone with other students. Especially because there is a problem with trying to understand different accents and other such things. However, I was very thankful that Facebook was the preferred means of communication. Our group started out strong with all six members sending out the welcome email. All looked very welcoming. However, one week in one of our members was dropped. By the second week, another group member stopped responding. By the end of the project there were only three of us fully working on the project together. One would think that this would make us three very frustrated, but we treated this very professionally. We did not bad mouth anyone and we got the work done together. We separated the work equally between the three of us and we turned in a finished product.
From this experience I learned that virtual teams are not as hard as others make it out to be. Personally, I enjoyed this experience very much. Though it is a nerve-wracking exercise it did seem rewarding in the end. I also learned that there are different motivations in different cultures. It seemed to me that Mexico had some very motivated students whom were dedicated to their school work, where other countries did not. It made me wonder what the education looks like in these cultures. Is it strict like the United States? Or is there more emphasis on other career opportunities, or starting families?
If I were to do this project again, I would only change to make the teams more global. My team had three US students, and though we were in different time zones, I would like to be challenged with the language barrier. Other than that, I believe the work is fair and the report is the perfect length and right amount of work.
To improve future projects I would suggest having a grad student in each group. This observer can then report (truthfully) back to the directors to see who is and is not participating. I would also recommend more global teams. If the groups need to be smaller for this to happen then I do not think it is a bad idea to consider. My group had three core members and we were able to get the work done, so I believe it would be possible for other students too. There is the problem of students dropping out, so essentially I believe every team should start with 4-5 members, from all different areas, to really gain the full experience.