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Enquiring minds need to know.

October 14, 2009

Take a short survey and see what others think about “un-group” activity.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Anahit Petrosyan permalink
    October 14, 2009 8:43 pm

    Reaction to Un-group exercise (Assn 9):

    Well, I expected our un-group activity to be more primitive than it turned out to be. By that I mean, I thought we’d have to communicate via e-mail or, less preferably to me, via one of Angel’s discussion boards to complete this exercise.

    Thanks to one of the most active students in the group, who took the initiative to introduce the following IT tool, our group ended up using Googledocs in this context. I did not know about Googledocs’ existence up until last week. It turned out to be pretty handy for implementing an asynchronous collaborative writing/thinking project. So, that’s one unexpected thing I learned from the un-group activity.

    Also, I had not previously worked in a group consisting of more than four people, so I was curious how our group of 8 would manage to come to an agreement on and put together a response to the un-group exercise question. It was encouraging to learn that as long as all are driven by the same goal an acceptable agreement can be reached on a given issue within given time constraints.

    Of course, I didn’t expect our response to be the only/best answer to the posed question. I understood that a set of different responses could be generated to address the un-group exercise question effectively. I realized that we were given an exercise that involved implementing at least one of the IT-based social phenomena – “crowd-sourcing” – of the two that we were assigned to explore. I thought doing the un-group exercise helped me partially experience what it is like to engage in crowd-sourcing in the current digital age.

    It was a pretty enjoyable educational experience. Thanks to all in my group for making it a smooth one. 🙂

    • Mike permalink
      October 20, 2009 8:58 pm

      This was the first time I had heard of Googledocs. I had previously used the Angel and Blackboard board discussion boards as well as email for this type of asynchronous group work (it was a pain in the arse to be honest). The googledocs seemed like a fantastic way to pool collective ideas and research. I say “seemed” since I was that guy in your group who never materialized last week. Last week was sort of a Perfect Storm of work, school, and personal BS. Argh! Anywho, what’s done is done and I look forward to using Googledocs in the future. I really does seem like a handy tool.

  2. mayumimp permalink
    October 15, 2009 1:38 pm

    Our group used the google doc too. I have used it a couple of times prior to this assignment, and I find it very useful. It works best for a small assignment like this one. I got overwhelmed by many people adding and editing at the same time when I used it for a research project.

    I thought I left a comment last night regarding the un-group assignment, but I don’t see it posted so I would like to mention it again.

    The question for this assignment was very difficult because I never heard of “crowdsourcing” and “tag cloud” before. After I did a little research online and started to understand what they are, next thing I thought about was “maybe one of the reasons that professor assigned us to do this exercise is so we can experience being a part of crowdsourcing!”

    One thing I am learning from this class is that there are so many IT related terms like “tag cloud” (I have seen and used tag clouds but I didn’t know that is how it was called…), and it is hard to find a definition for it other than online. And the best and quickest way to know what they do is to experience it by using them!

    • pdxroach permalink
      October 16, 2009 10:23 pm

      Hi Mayumi-
      I saw your original post…it is in the comments section of the view results section of the poll. I left one there as well…

  3. Jen Lorenzen permalink
    October 16, 2009 9:26 pm

    Like all group assignments that I’ve been involved with, the organization and decision-making tasks took way more time than did the actual assignment.

    Crowd-sourcing is a new concept to me, but it seems as though such projects are more about individuals working alone towards a common goal rather than groups of people working together. Had Derek “put out the call” for an answer to his two questions, he would have received thirty different responses. I would think that in a real world situation of crowd-sourcing, so many results, or possible results, could be problematic. Online you could be getting thousands or more responses, depending upon the originating website or organization and the prize, if any, awarded to the “winner.” I wonder how many real world crowd-sourcing projects allow or even encourage the formation of groups?

    In any case, my own group produced a rough draft document that appeared chaotic, but actually included a rather comprehensive discussion of the topic. While Google Docs proved to be a great “quick and dirty” type of solution, I think this type of assignment would have gone smoother with a devoted discussion board and wiki. But then of course we wouldn’t have learned all that we did about Web 2.0 solutions and what works best for the situation at hand.

  4. pdxroach permalink
    October 16, 2009 10:20 pm

    Crowdsourcing was unfamiliar to me as a term, although I conceptually knew about it, and have/had participated in it. Before our ungroup assignment, I never would have considered using Google docs to be a limited type of crowdsourcing, and yet it fits the bill. For me, this added a layer of meaning to the assignment that was unexpected, and interesting.
    As for “value of the product” with tag clouds, as Derek mentioned in the debrief, there can be quite a difference.
    p.s.- it’s being an “ungroup” assignment vs. a “group” assignment certainly didn’t decrease my level of commitment to it. I still felt accountable as a group member, even though the contributions were asynchronous, and thus I put quite a bit of thought into it, and checked our evolving document multiple times for new content. I think the knowledge that new stuff could emerge piqued my interest…
    p.p.s.-I duplicated this same comment on the poll results page–for those of you reading it twice, I apologize! 😉

  5. Lindsay Ludvigsen permalink
    October 17, 2009 7:44 pm

    Our group used a wiki to communicate and it was useful although there were lots of ads all over the place so this particular wiki was a little annoying to navigate. Also, some of us (like me) did not use our names for user names so when we added comments our real names were not shown, so no one really knew which member of the group you are (although I did post who I really am in the greetings area, but you can never be sure if everyone read that). I think smaller groups would have been better, but it worked out. Tag clouds were not new to me since I see them a lot on LJ, but crowd-sourcing was new so I learned some new vocabulary there.

  6. mnlvn2 permalink
    October 18, 2009 1:59 am

    The “un-group” activity was actually a great example of “crowd-sourcing.” When I learned the details of the “un-group” assignment, I was not at all familiar with the “crowd-sourcing”; it was the first time I heard of the terminology. I learned of cloud tag from my Libr 202. Thanks to some posts from the group, I was able to quickly grasp the “crowd-sourcing” concept. Once I thought I have a good understanding of “crowd-sourcing,” I immediately tried to define the two terms in my own words and post my definitions–hopefully in time for it to still be of help/use to some others. The quicker the group can come to a consensus on how to complete the assignment, the less stress it is for everyone in the group.

    If there is some sense of disinterest or no interest as a whole or among members from the group, then soon any benefit from either crowd-sourcing, cloud tags, or other web 2.0 technologies will quickly vanish leaving the site (or other portal) to be in essence “dead”. The ingredients are not just the internet and 2.0 web technologies, but also the right kind of participants who has the same level of interest and commitment.

  7. Miranda Lam permalink
    October 18, 2009 2:11 am

    (I thought I posted this already. For some reasons, it is not showing…hm…luckily I composed the following in Word doc first.)


    The “un-group” activity was actually a great example of “crowd-sourcing.” When I learned the details of the “un-group” assignment, I was not at all familiar with the “crowd-sourcing”; it was the first time I heard of the terminology. I learned of cloud tag from my Libr 202. Thanks to some posts from the group, I was able to quickly grasp the “crowd-sourcing” concept. Once I thought I have a good understanding of “crowd-sourcing,” I immediately tried to define the two terms in my own words and post my definitions–hopefully in time for it to still be of help/use to some others. The quicker the group can come to a consensus on how to complete the assignment, the less stress it is for everyone in the group.

    If there is some sense of disinterest or no interest as a whole or among members from the group, then soon any benefit from either crowd-sourcing, cloud tags, or other web 2.0 technologies will quickly vanish leaving the site (or other portal) to be in essence “dead”. The ingredients are not just the internet and 2.0 web technologies, but also the right kind of participants who has the same level of interest and commitment.

  8. Jessica Gillis permalink
    October 19, 2009 1:32 pm

    Since I am in the middle of two other group projects using googledocs it was pretty easy to just add another one to work on. But I agree with Jen that for the size of group it was not the best tool to use – it is hard to keep track of what was said when and if you wanted to comment on something that was in the middle it got confusing…. I didn’t actually make the connection between crowd-sourcing and this assignment as I don’t think they are the same thing. I don’t really like working with such large groups, 5 is the maximum that I think is effective. In something like what we did I feel much less “buy-in” because a few people can give their feedback and I feel my addition would just be redundant and therefore there is no need for it. The content was not complex enough to warrant responses from 10 different sources. If there is a large group I prefer to break up the work between smaller groups of people. This felt like busy work to me.

  9. varaxy permalink
    October 19, 2009 2:45 pm

    My group used a wiki which essentially got the job done. I think it was quite effective. I thought the group size was a bit large to be completely efficient though. What was tough with asynchronous interaction on the wiki was that people are on at different times and it is a case of early bird gets the worm because they’ve already put their input. Any who come after may feel as if their input is not necessary because the question has been answered. Especially with a question that was pretty cut and dry. I think that’s a bit dangerous. Adding another website to all the websites I must monitor makes for a bit of confusion as well.

  10. Veronica Arispe permalink
    October 19, 2009 5:41 pm

    Our group used a wiki, this was the first time I had ever participated in one. It was a good learning experience. The assignment was not difficult but it needed to be thought out and agreed upon by many group members.

    I was not familiar with the term ‘crowd-sourcing’ before this class but soon was able to understand a little more than before. I had used a ‘tag cloud’ for an assignment last semester with related terms. I attended a workshop where they showed us how to create a tag cloud using

    Crowd-sourcing is effective because it involves different people’s point of view and ideas. When many people collaborate the end product is bigger and better.

  11. Linnea Marteen permalink
    October 19, 2009 6:44 pm

    The difficulty in the un-group assignment, for me, was not in answering the question, but in performing the actual *group* work (which I suspect was the point ;)). Two members of our group (myself included) were late to the party, because we didn’t discover our group wiki until the group answer had essentially been formulated. The difficulty in net-based group work seems to be making sure that everyone is on the same page (web or otherwise, I suppose!).

    Aside from that, one of our group members took initiative in starting a wiki, which was a great way for everyone to collaborate. I had never used one before, and was glad to be introduced to it. I have used Google Docs extensively in the past for group assignments, and preferred using the wiki this time because it is much more conducive to discussion.

    • Mike permalink
      October 20, 2009 9:06 pm

      I also arrived to my group’s party late. Felt like walking into a meeting several days late after everything had already been decided. What I found interesting about that situation, and this was noted in the warp-up, was how this type of group collaboration, although it seems so much different than in person group work, is virtually identifcal. You have leaders who get things started (choosing to set up wikis and googledocs, etc.), and others like myself who just didn’t have their stuff together. Interesting.
      I’m curious about using wikis now. You said you actually preferred them to googledocs. Having just used googledocs, and being quite intrigued by it, I’m interested to see how wikis work. I imagine the two tools are both useful depending on the type of communication needed and the type of product being produced.

  12. nikkibush permalink
    October 19, 2009 9:39 pm

    For our “un-group” group assignment we used a Google doc as mentioned by several of the posts. I’d used them before in SJSU classes and I think they work well. In the past, however, my groups also communicated through Skype or Elluminate (at the beginning of the project/midway/end). I still find myself drawn to being able to speak to my group members via the phone, Skype, etc., though it may have been difficult with the amount of people in the group in terms of coordination, order, etc. So, while I preferred the independence of working on the assignment in terms of elements like scheduling when I would work on it, interacting at the same time with group members also has benefits when completing an assignment.

    • Jessica Gillis permalink
      October 20, 2009 5:47 pm

      I agree about being able to talk together, even just once. I quite like collaborating with people and working in a group but I need that group meeting at some point.

  13. Carlene Chiu permalink
    October 19, 2009 10:13 pm

    I feel that the un-group assignment ended up being like a group assignment in that there was lot of time spent organizing, planning, discussing, a zillion e-mails, etc. The added element of having to rate each other made the assignment more serious than it was probably intended to be in that it became almost like writing a mini-paper with ALA style references.

    I agree with Jen’s statement that the exercise wasn’t really crowdsourcing but more like a collaboration since crowdsourcing doesn’t involve groupwork but a lot of individuals working on the same problem. We used google docs which I never fully untilized before so I did learn a new tool for collaboration and felt my group members had great insight. Organizing and editing was pretty tedious though and I think I spent more time working/thinking on the un-group group assignment than the Widget assignment.

    • Tiffanie Wick permalink
      October 20, 2009 8:24 pm

      Ditto for me Carlene. I also feel like I should have spent a bit more time on my widget assignment and less on the group work. Oh well, lesson learned. 🙂

  14. Jona permalink
    October 20, 2009 11:11 am

    I didn’t understand what was “un-group” about the assignment, as it ended up working just like the other group assignments I’ve done so far in my coursework. I agree with Carlene that adding the rating element to the mix made the assignment a bit more tedious than it needed to be.

    It was great using a wiki, as I’m a big fan of anything wiki. It was cool to introduce this tool to students who hadn’t used it before (I like that aspect of librarianship!). It did worry me, however, the amount of time and effort that was being spent on this portion of the assignment…I imagine crowdsourcing as something a bit more natural and simple overall.

  15. Jami Wardlow permalink
    October 20, 2009 2:11 pm

    To be honest, I thought the ungroup group assignment was going to be a train wreck when I saw the large group size. In my experience, the bigger the group, the harder it is to get anything done. But because the task was so simple and the alloted time so short, everyone was motivated to come to a consensus quickly. Perhaps this was a drawback to the final product. Once we came up with a viable answer, most people (myself included) just kind of said “Ok, fine!” because we knew we needed something to turn in ASAP. But at least most of us learned something new.

  16. Alejandra Saldaña permalink
    October 20, 2009 2:24 pm

    I was confused when I first read about the “un-group group” section of the assignment. Our group used google docs to compile our answer regarding crowd sourcing (which I agree with everyone–our assignment was very much crowd sourcing!). With previous groups that I have worked with, we have used google docs as a way to formulate our ideas together without having to email back and forth about any changes made because they would be shown on the document. Although, we did email every time we made a change, I think it was more because of the time constraint and the amount of students in one group (group projects normally have a longer time period to work together). Overall, I believe this assignment helped me and maybe most students get a better grasp at the concepts we were learning about.

  17. lduncan permalink
    October 20, 2009 4:56 pm

    I may end up echoing a number of other people here, but the trouble with the un-group assignment (if trouble it was) was that you ended up with a host of people to complete one fairly short and simple task. Part of what made the rating portion difficult was that while some group members ultimately did more than others, there was perhaps not enough work to go around. I’ve run into the same problem in group projects. Suppose there are three roughly equal tasks and five people. (Or, heaven forbid, but very common, what if you have to write a thesis’ed paper together?) How can you divide up the work to be both equitable and efficient? Often, the group work tends one direction or the other. I think our group work, after the initial interesting discussion portion, turned pretty quickly to the efficient. What from our discussion worked? What from our discussion can we get a consensus on quickly? I’m sure there are many groups where everyone participates in the gathering of information or the discussion, but one person actually writes the paper – but, but, everyone wants to be involved in the editing or the reformatting or something, anything. Crowd-sourcing can be oddly difficult to implement, at least – I think it’s difficult to implement when rating is involved. In cases where group members are thinking about grades or about performing as well/better than other group members, there may be more issues (or “issues”) of consensus and ownership. It’s not just that everyone wants the final project to look good, but that everyone wants the final project to have a part of them, even if it goes unvoiced. A mark of participation. It’s not at all a bad thing, but it’s not altogether the communialism of a labor of love. I’d be curious to do some reading on crowd-sourcing – how possessive are people of their own segments?

  18. Ashley Eaton permalink
    October 20, 2009 5:46 pm

    I may be a bit negative when it comes to this, but I have found that many online group (or “un-group”) assignments take quite a bit longer to complete as a group than they would have as an individual. Like Linsey said above, this particular assignment involved a large number of people trying to complete a “short and simple task,” so I felt like the logistics of the project ended up taking way more effort than the actual project. I’m not saying that all online group activities are ineffective. For example, I can certainly imagine a large project or website, where different people have distinct responsibilities, which runs much more efficiently as a collaboration. I also understand that having the ability to work with a team is a must in the real world. I’ve just found that most school group assignments seem to require quite a bit of seemingly unnecessary time and logistical planning. And while I certainly got a lot of helpful information and practice out of this particular project, I still harbor some reserve about group projects as a whole.

    • Ben Pham permalink
      October 20, 2009 8:19 pm

      I agree with you Ashley, but I think the main goal was for us to work in a group for the sake of working in a group moreso than to answer the proposed question. But yeah, more time was spent on coordination and communication (and miscommunication) than on answering the question.

  19. Jessica Navarro permalink
    October 20, 2009 7:23 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the activity. At first, when I saw how many people were in each group, I immediately expected it be chaotic. After we started collaborating and posting our own ideas on our own time, things started to come together nicely. This was a great way to work with a group when everyone has different schedules.

  20. Ben Pham permalink
    October 20, 2009 8:24 pm

    The only really annoying thing about the group assignment was the number of people in the group. There were just too many individuals and not enough responsibilities for each person. Thus our message boxes got cluttered with messages like “is that okay with you?” “yes, that’s okay” “yes, that’s fine” “sounds good” “cool, that works for me” etc etc etc.

  21. Tiffanie Wick permalink
    October 20, 2009 8:34 pm

    I am somewhat familiar with Googledocs but this still felt a little new with so many to collaborate with and so much info to keep track of. Lots of comments from everyone (a good thing!) and some confusion by having two simultaneous conversations. Near the end we were able to all came together, merge our ideas and create a single document. What I liked about the exercise was that we were all were able to a consensus and that everyone contributed and created a really nice document. What I didn’t like was all the extra editing that comes of such a large group. I learned more about tagging and crowd sourcing than I expected (or wanted) to. Not as “un-group” as I expected but not horrible either. I lived. ha ha.

  22. Corie Julius permalink
    October 20, 2009 9:04 pm

    I have used google docs, sites, presentations, etc for three years now at our school. As a staff we do pretty much everything paperless now. Even our students use google docs. So working in a collaborative environment was not what tripped me up. I agree with other students comments that this wasn’t a big enough task for the amount of people in our group. Also, instead of having a discussion, I felt like we just found a bunch of definitions for crowd sourcing and tag clouds and mashed them together. I don’t think the google doc was a good example of crowd sourcing because I think crowd sourcing is a “crowd” and we functioned more like a “team.” In retrospect, I think a Wiki would have been a better medium to use (or Google Wave—which I’m bragging here, I have an invitation to, but had no time to explore. )

  23. Judy Sullivan permalink
    October 20, 2009 9:11 pm

    Here are some thoughts regarding group, un-group:

    First, thanks for providing this project–I have learned something completely new (I didn’t know anything about the concepts of Tagclouds and Crowdsourcing before; and this is the first time I learned how to use the tools of “Google Document”). It is also a fun project.

    Second, we had a very good and energetic team. Everybody showed concern and support for each other and provided the unique inputs in their own ways. I might get a lower rate from others since I’m still learning instead of creating, but from the final results and the help and guidance that I got, I see the great value of teamwork.

    Third, after having finished this project and read “Un-Group Debrief” from lecture, I finally understand what it means to “exist in an asynchronous “space'” and how one should perform in this “space”. I realized how many tools and ways that we can use to accomplish what we need to do. Going through this learning experience, I also realized how important the basic information correctness is (including not “clouding it up” with slang which many people may not understand).

  24. Jeanette Duffels permalink
    October 20, 2009 9:53 pm

    I’m a little negative when it comes to these kinds of group projects. I thought it was lot more trouble than it was worth. Answering some very simple questions in large groups proved challenging. Often, many people are needed to complete large tasks, and there are many relatively new and innovative technologies to accomplish them, but this was not the case with this assignment.

    I also can’t help but feel a little resentful at the idea that our groups were purposely hiding our answers from each other in order to be competitive. I don’t think that was the case at all. The discussion boards prove that we are willing to help each other. I think we were actually trying not to bother the entire class with all of our group communications.

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