Creating Better Study Environments For Increased Productivity and Organization

I was able to learn a great deal of information this semester about how to create better study environments. One of the parts that I believe to be a crucial part of creating a strong study environment is the organization and planning of your work. Earlier in this class I was able to learn about a unique tool called Trello. Trello allows for me to create different tasks boards in order to help keep all of my assignments organized. I am able to record what tasks have already been completed, what I am currently working on, what I still need to do, and include due dates for every single item. This has been very helpful to me and has allowed me to not only make sure I am getting all of my work done, but also get ahead on my school work. This is something that I plan on continuing to use in the future, as it has helped to greatly improve my overall efficiency. Here is one of my learning artifacts from this year containing my Trello board from a few weeks ago.

Here is a video from the Trello website that explains a little more about what Trello is.

Trello 101 | Getting Started with Trello

Effectively Communicating Online

Here is one of my learning artifacts from this semester on communicating online. It is my week 3 reflection post, and I feel as though this post was very educational and informative for me.

Week #3 Reflection Paper – Online Collaboration

Alex Grassie

I experienced online collaboration difficulties in my medieval history class last summer. The difficulties occurred when I was collaborating with my classmates on the completion of a shared study guide for the final exam. The members of the class – it was a very small class only about 20 people – and myself had a very hard time communicating on who would complete which parts of the study guide. We basically all just volunteered for various sections of it, not knowing if any person was good at the section they volunteered for or if they would even complete it. Some people didn’t even communicate at all, and because of this poor communication/collaboration many parts of the study guide remained unfinished. This was a great learning experience for me when it came to collaboration with groups online, and the readings this week provided me with many strategies that I would have applied to my situation last summer to fix it. These strategies can also be applied to any group projects I work on in the future.

There were many problems with our initial communication that led to the overall failure to complete the study guide. We tried to jump right into the norming/performing stage of group work, rather than realizing we should have begun at forming stage in terms of our communication. I found that the initial phases of group collaboration have been where I have experienced the most group problems. Lisk and Quartuccio (2010) state, “During the forming stage, group members discover qualities of other team members, designate parts of assignments, outline assignment objectives and work to discover the needed resources for assignment completion.” I believe that this is the most important and crucial step of the group work collaboration because without going through this stage successful the entire project will fail. AS this relates to my past online experience, and my future ones as well, I think that being able to figure out what your strengths are as a group and coming up with a specific outline for the project will create a more organized atmosphere. This strong organization and decisions around how work should be divided up, will ensure that all the work can be completed and nothing will be left out. Lisk and Quartuccio (2010) also say, “In order to create successful assignments, designated groups must begin with a derailed assignment plan. Beginning with the selection of a leader, the team leader should develop assignment plans that include project parts, word counts, and additional expectations such as plagiarism check submissions.” By assigning clear roles in the group, as well as what is expected from each person, it is more likely that the project will be completed correctly. It will lead to less confusion among group members, and a clearer image for what is expected from each member.

Finally, I think that it is important to recognize the communication patterns and needs of your fellow group members. Richardson (2004) says, “When you work with online group projects, the last thing you need is a misunderstanding caused through an inadvertent communication faux pas. As mentioned before, you need to get to know the online communication style of each individual group member.” I think this is critical in overall group success, as well as in terms of what technology will be used to communicate. Each group member will have different preferences for how they communicate best, but I believe that for each project one style of technology should be used. It is important to identify what technology source will best meet the needs of all group members to effectively communicate. For me, this has always been group messages over text, or through a shared google docs. I am interested to begin to use new sources of communication such as Adobe Connect, to continue to improve group communication skills.

Works Cited

Lisk, & Quartuccio. (2010). Managing Group Assignments in the Online Learning Environment.

Richardson, C. (2004). Participating in Group Projects Online.

Takeaways from 2011

Many of my major takeaways from this class were the many different tools that we learned about for online classes. One of these tools, Adobe Connect, I found to be very interesting. This is a tool that allows groups of people to communicate online, present ideas, facilitate discussions, give lectures, and is a great space for group projects to be completed. Adobe connects allows for its users to complete all the different aspect of a project, as I mentioned above, and also be able to communicate with your fellow group members. There are many different advantages to this, with the biggest and most obvious reason being that it makes groups projects so much easier to complete. The accessibility and organization create by this tool cannot be matched by any other presentation tool. In the future, I plan on using Adobe Connect in order to complete group projects, especially for online courses.

Here’s a video on how to get started with Adobe Connect.