Teamworks, the Virtual Team Assistant, is a web site developed to provide support for group communication processes, and especially for design teams in engineering and other practical arts and sciences. Teamworks consists of nine informational modules, each of which contains background information, instruments for self-assessment, lessons to develop team work skills, and links to helpful resources.
Type of Material:
Resource tool, combined with self-assessments and tutorials. A very rich interactive web site that provides information on team dynamics and protocol
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The purpose of this module is to provide a basic introduction to some principles of project management. James P. Lewis, founder of Lewis Consulting and Training and author of Fundamentals of Project Management explains project management this way: Project management is the planning, scheduling, and controlling of project activities to meet project objectives. The major objectives that must be met include performance, cost, and time goals. Project management is a complex topic that includes issues of contracting, organizational structure, project execution, and project administration. In many projects, these issues must be handled in a formal way, according to company policies, government regulations, and legal structures.
Target Student Population:
This module was developed to provide support for group communication processes, and especially for design teams in engineering and other practical arts and sciences. It is appropriate for a diverse academic and business environment. It would benefit students at the Associate,
Baccalaureate, or Post-Graduate level. Further, it would be most beneficial to private sector employers in the manufacturing and service industry. Anyone how embraces the team-based and synergistic model of organization behavior and development would benefit from the information and simulations made available through these series of team building modules.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
This module would probably require some context for learning project management skills. For example, a class in which student teams have to collaborate on a final project would provide a good entry point for this module. Obviously, the module should be introduced fairly early in the semester if it is meant to be used as a resource for student teams. If the class does not formally provide prior information on team or group skills, the module could still probably be used as a primer to ?working in teams and managing group projects.?
Overall, this is an excellent resource site for learning and developing team skills and, in this case, skills for project management. The site combines resource information with skill development activities, self-assessments, and links to other resources. The material is also easy to read and concise.
The practical application value could be enhanced by providing some experiential mini-case examples of how the skills could be applied in actual situations. Web site itself could be more visually appealing. Can come across as a bit too text oriented. Could have better utilized visuals and graphics to make the site more visually attractive.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The project management segment of this site is infinitely adaptable to the classroom setting. It could be used simple as an information resource on project management, or it could be actually applied by student teams that must collaborate on a final project. Another strength of this site is to provide ancillary materials to share with students who are being required to work in teams to complete class assignments. Site is a wonderful resource for business and industry to utilize as they too often adopt a team-based organizational approach to problem solving and just assume because one uses a team-based approach that somehow magically that will yield results.
The site developer might consider making reference to their favorite supplemental readings for each sub-module
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The topics are divided and organized in manageable and logical segments. The site is also easy to navigate; the text is large and easy to read.
Because of the thorough and rich nature of this site, one should take it piece by piece, as this is a rather large elephant to tackle in one sitting.
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