My attitude in a group situation

Group-work is always a challenge. The ONL course and the group-work it requires are no exception. But I like a good challenge, don’t you? I like the feeling of completing challenging tasks, this feeling of achievement after putting so much effort into the completion. But let’s get honest, I also am not so much a big fan of the frustration I sometimes face through the different steps of the way.

Once committed, I will do everything I can to do a good job. I want to be happy with my final work and have no regrets. I can not accept telling myself ‘you could have done more to make this work, why didn’t you?‘ I am a ‘doer’, I am always volunteering for getting things done, to move forward, towards the next task. When I am at the horse club, if we have to practice a certain set of figures one after the other, I am quickly volunteering to go first, because if we spend half the lesson figuring who goes first, we will have no time to practice all the figures during the one hour lesson… I am quickly going first, so I can make things move forward. This attitude tends to get me the role of leader in many situations. I know that much of myself.

But I am not an aggressive leader. The diagram from Garisson (2007) (Figure 1) shows that social presence supports learning experience. I could not agree more. I know I personally learn best when people teach me directly, rather than from only reading instructions out of a manual. Furthermore, as Margaret Finnegan nicely illustrates in her blog, some people can feel ignored when others are taking the lead of a group-work. Thus if I were to talk all the time, and lead the group always towards the topic I want to investigate, I believe I would miss out on the educated and interesting point of views of my group members, of this amazing resource that is the personal experiences of my peers. One of my mentors once told me: ‘You are good with people‘. I surely hope so, and I really aim to be. I try to listen to everyone, to take into account everyone’s opinion, to understand each side of any story. I give time for people to express themselves, and I ask question to get deeper understanding.

Figure by Garisson (2007) Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, v11 n1 p61-72

Thus, I have gone through the first 5weeks of the ONL course with this same usual attitude: I am engaged in the conversations, I easily give my opinion, I feel the blanks in the conversation with questions, I try to make the discussion move forward, and I volunteer to complete some tasks. I want to reach the final goal of each topic, and I want to reach my goal of learning and using new IT tools, which I will later hopefully properly use in my own teaching.

Nothing wrong with trying to get things done, right? Right! Until you reach a point when you are actually tired or feeling like you are doing it all. Again, group-work is about doing things together and a leader should also maybe learn to delegate, to reach out for support and help, to avoid for example a burn out!

Online group-learning