Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

A Pilot Study of Virtual Teamwork Training

Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

A Pilot Study of Virtual Teamwork Training

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Today's college graduates need to be able to work in a global marketplace. Some of the skills required for this involve being able to work in teams, being able to work in a virtual environment, and being able to use whatever technology is needed to work virtually. Most of today's young professionals are technologically savvy. Are they, however, prepared to collaborate virtually and produce high quality products using the technologies they use for everyday socializing? For years now college students have been prepared to work in teams, it is now equally as important to prepare young business professionals to work in virtual teams. The model presented in this study will combine a revised virtual teamwork-training model with technology acceptance constructs. A pilot study was conducted to test the instrument and details will be provided for how the data will be analyzed in future studies.

VIRTUAL TEAM LEARNING THEORIES

A number of researchers have identified theories that impact virtual team learning (Andres & Shipp, 2010; Kock, Lynn, Dow, & Akgun, 2006) as well as models for developing and implementing effective electronic collaboration learning environments (Bower, 2011; Chen, Sager, Corbitt, & Gardiner, 2008; Kirschner, Stijbos, Kreijns, & Beers, 2004). Following educational philosopher John Dewey's (1922) belief that learning is an iterative process of designing, carrying out, reflecting upon and modifying actions, Edmonson (1999) characterized learning in groups as a continuous process of reflection and action. Team members should feel open to test theories, ask questions, experiment, reflect and seek feedback. Edmonson found that team structures, including effective leaders and training, and shared beliefs, influence results.

Andres and Shipps (2010) developed a model for measuring team learning in technology-mediated distributed teams. The researchers combined the theory of affordances (Gibson, 1977; Kirschner et al., 2004) and social impact theory (Latane, 1981) to develop a framework that can be used to explain the impact of the collaboration mode on team learning and the social factors that impact team learning and problem solving. Andres and Shipps (2010) suggested that in addition to technology issues encountered in virtual teams, managers and educators should be aware of the technical, educational and social affordances that impact team learning and the social dimensions present in virtual team learning. Heath, Svensson, Hindmarsh, Luff, and vom Lehn (2002) described the need to improve awareness of the principles and behaviors of individuals working in a collaborative environment. Andres and Shipp suggested that virtual team members should be trained on how to work toward common goals in a virtual environment and understand the dynamics of virtual collaboration, such as coordination, negotiated decision making, and interpersonal interactions.

VIRTUAL TEAMWORK TRAINING MODEL

Chen et al. (2008, p. 38) proposed a model for virtual teamwork training. They used a mixed-methods approach examining survey data, student comments and final project submissions. The researchers found that employing the virtual teamwork training model resulted in "increasing students' awareness of and competence in performing virtual teamwork."

The teamwork training model developed by Chen et al. (2008) was derived from Kolb (1984) learning cycle. Figure 1 depicts Kolb's learning cycle. Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (2005) described how Kolb defined learning as the process of creating knowledge through experience. Knowles et al. identified Kolb's four-step cycle of experiential learning.

The first step for learners is to be involved in concrete new experience. Second, learners should reflect and make observations on their experiences from many perspectives. Third, generalizations and theories are created based on reflections and observations. …

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