Week 7 – Learning communities

As usual, I could not attend the webinar since I had teaching then. Below I reflect on some questions raised in the webinar.


What are the key positives / negatives of online collaboration?

The best part is that I don’t need to travel. It feels so unnecessary to travel a lot to attend meetings: traveling takes a lot of time and it’s usually not environment friendly (especially if I need to fly somewhere). So working in online meetings work can work pretty fine – especially with Zoom which I really like.

Although I personally prefer online meetings to avoid long-distance traveling, I still participate in a project which makes f2f transnational meetings compulsory, so I travel then. Of course f2f meetings have also have their positive sides as the presence of other people, shared walks or meals add a unique layer to working together. Such experiences strengthen cohesion.

I think the best combination is when we meet our international / global partners f2f sometimes (for example at conferences) and work intensively online in-between such meetings.


What was your worst / best collaborative experience and why?

Usually I have good experiences since I am surrounded by great colleagues. However, I have also recognized some social loafing in one of the teams I work in, and it is very challenging to handle it, especially because the guy who systematically doesn’t do anything is otherwise a nice person and works a lot in other projects.

I think many times social loafing is a survival strategy in academia: people are forced to take part in as many projects as their boss can imagine (especially if they are not yet tenured so are in a pretty vulnerable position), but of course everybody is overloaded so people simply prioritize their n+1 tasks and if they find their 1000th part-time project less motivating, they just simply abandon it.


Do you collaborate or cooperate?

Both – it depends on the task and the situation. I understand that collaboration is something more than cooperation, you get involved much more in joint activities and collaboration is a much more complex structure in which partners are interdependent. Cool. However, not all tasks require such dedication. There are necessary but simple, boring and mechanistic tasks that you can perform with simple collaboration. Typically such task is for example the feeding of various administrative databases of the university. You add your stuff, don’t even look at anybody else’s stuff, and you all maintain a fabulous institutional machinery which, if everything goes well, pays you a salary.


What considerations do we need to take when collaborating online?

I’m part of several research teams and we work quite a lot online. We need to be super careful to be in line with GDPR. For example, if we want to discuss data which includes personal information, we can only use the secured channels our university provides to us. Several popular and otherwise well-working online collaborative platforms cannot even be considered.

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