Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Second Virtual Meeting with Texas A&M

The preparation for this meeting began the week before in class. My classmates and I got together and talked about our experiences with our groups. It was encouraging to hear that other people ran into some of the same problems I did and how they handled them. We all shared our lessons learned, which gave me new perspectives and ideas going into planning and organizing the second meeting.

After the huge success of my first meeting with my group in Second Life, I was genuinely looking forward to our second meeting. However, organizing my group proved to be more difficult than the time before. Following my lessons learned from our last meeting, I set a deadline to reply to the poll I sent of possible dates and times. I was surprised to find that after the deadline has passed, only one student had taken the poll. I found this to be discouraging because I thought my new organized approach would have made a difference. I informed the students that I was extending the deadline and that night I would make a decision based on those who replied. I'm not sure if that was the best way to handle that. Was I rewarding an inability to follow through by giving them more time? In the end, everyone showed up, which is what I really wanted.

For our second conversation, I encouraged the group to really listen to each other's response before responding to make comments more insightful and prevent the chaos of our first meeting. The students did well with it but I noticed that it slowed down the conversation considerably. There were more gaps where several people were typing but nothing was showing up because they were trying to take turns. I didn't like that but their responses were better and there weren't as many repeat comments so it worked. The biggest difference between this meeting and the last one was the level of preparedness of the group. The group didn't participate as actively as they did last time and they didn't seem to give the pre-discussion work as much attention as they did the first time. I asked them to write down any questions or comments they had about the videos they watched but none of them did it. As disappointed as I was, we were able to have a fairly good conversation.

Lessons learned from this meeting:

  1. Be flexible! Unforeseen issues can arise (we ended up with two groups in the same location) and it's always good to have a plan B in case your original plan needs to change.
  2. Be prepared! Make sure you know the material and have extra questions and talking points for those moments when conversation falls flat to keep it moving.
  3. A learning community is a powerful thing. The ideas, suggestions and shared experiences talked about in a groups of learners can make you better prepared and you'll have some "tricks" up your sleeve if you need them. 

1 comment:

  1. Why do you think they were less prepared? Also, I don't think you were rewarding their behavior by giving them more time. I've encountered that situation too. Next time, you may want to send out a reminder email before the due date, and see if you get more responses.