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 Faculty of Computing Studies: Level 2 M253 Team working in distributed environments M253 Activity Sheet Milestone 0 Suggested timeline Study Week 1 Familiarize yourself with the course materials and post an introductory message to your team forum. Study W

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مُساهمةموضوع: Faculty of Computing Studies: Level 2 M253 Team working in distributed environments M253 Activity Sheet Milestone 0 Suggested timeline Study Week 1 Familiarize yourself with the course materials and post an introductory message to your team forum. Study W   السبت أبريل 04, 2015 5:03 am

Faculty of Computing Studies: Level 2
M253 Team working in distributed environments
M253 Activity Sheet
Milestone 0
Suggested timeline
Study Week 1 Familiarize yourself with the course materials and post an introductory message to your team forum.
Study Week 2 and
Study Week 3 Select a website to evaluate and post your evaluation to the team forum. Rank the team’s website evaluations and post your ranking to the team forum.
Study Week 4 As a team, agree a rank listing for the websites the team has reviewed. Email your agreed list, an explanation of how you arrived at your list and a short review of your team interaction to your tutor by 20 March 2015.
There is no tutor-marked assignment (TMA) associated with this Activity Sheet, although you are strongly recommended to complete it as the results will affect the outcomes of all the assessed milestones later in the course.
The beginning of Study Week 4 sees the first important milestone for this course. By then we expect you to have completed the activities set out in the ‘Tasks’ section of this document, and to have submitted the results of those activities to your tutor as your first course deliverable.
There is a single team submission that the team agrees upon. The team should nominate one person to email the submission to your tutor.
We have called this point Milestone 0 because the activities leading up to the milestone are formative rather than summative, in the sense that what you undertake and what you submit to your tutor will not be part of the formal assessment of the course. The activities are intended to help you get to know each other and to start you thinking about how you will work as a team.
The activities will also give you some practice in the things we think will be useful to you as the course proceeds. Use these activities to learn about yourself and your colleagues before embarking on the assessed work. In a trial run of this course, we discovered that teams who did not complete the activities described in this Milestone 0 Activity Sheet suffered for the rest of the course.
At this point you will be required to submit formal TMAs to your tutor for assessment of your progress on the course, both as a team and as individuals.
Purpose
To provide a framework within which you can build your team in preparation for the main team project, which will begin in Study Week 7 with the release of the Milestone 1 Activity Sheet. This Activity Sheet will be released shortly after the cut-off date for Milestone 0.
Team rules, roles and responsibilities
In order to get the most out of M253, you need to develop working practices and relationships with the other members of your team. One way of doing this is to establish some rules about how you will operate as a team. How, and when, will you communicate and collaborate on the various tasks that you will be required to undertake during the rest of the course? How will you reach a collective team decision on the various responses that you will be asked to make as a result of individual activities that you undertake? You also need to identify the different roles and responsibilities that may need to be managed by the members of your team when working on the required task for this activity. As you work on the activities leading up to Milestone 0, you can facilitate your team’s development by thinking about and discussing the rules, roles and responsibilities that you will adopt in your team in order that you can carry out the required tasks on M253 efficiently and effectively.
Tasks
We want you to find out something about each other, and then we want you to start working with each other, at a distance, on the problem of carrying out a shared task and arriving at an agreed team response.
Activity for the beginning of Study Week 1
One of the more important aspects of working in a team is that you know something about the other team members: their backgrounds, their interests, their skills, their attitudes and so on – especially where these relate to the ability to carry out the task for which the team was brought together. It is also important for you to know things about yourself, so we want you to reflect on how you feel about undertaking the course – what you think you can contribute to the team and what you hope to get out of the course.
We are therefore asking you to write and communicate to the rest of your team, via the forum that has been set up for your team, a short commentary describing yourself. We have provided some suggestions as to items of information that we think would be useful in each area, but you should feel free to include your own ideas.
We want you to try to keep your information short, simple, succinct and relevant –include only things that you think will be useful to other members of your team. It is important to use these first messages to strike up friendly discussions with your fellow team members and find out any other information that you think you might need before moving on to the next Activity Sheet.
Your introductory messages(s) should contain some of the following information.
• Your contact details – including an email address that other team members can use to get in touch with you.
• Some information about yourself: who you are; what you do now (your roles and responsibilities); your previous work experience (if any); what your out-of-work interests are; and any other personal information that you think would help the rest of the team who will be working with you during this course. It would be helpful if you could include some idea of the times when you expect to be able to work on the course and be available to respond to communications from other team members.
• Something about what previous experience you have of working with other people. What particular contribution do you think you can bring to working on a team project? Do you have experience of leading teams, or of coordinating projects? What experience, if any, do you have in working with other people at a distance? Some of your experiences in these areas may well have been gained outside the conventional work context through voluntary work or family life.
• Something about the skills you have (or would like to acquire) that you think may be relevant to the course (see also the second bullet point in the subsection on ‘Project logs’, below).
The sooner you send your initial posting to the team forum the better; do not fall into the trap of waiting to see what everyone else does before you make your posting. There is no ‘right’ format or content for your posting, so there is nothing to fear from finding that you have done
things differently from other members of the team. Indeed, one of the things that we want you to reflect on throughout the course is just how differently individuals respond to a common set of instructions. Appendix 1 provides some sample initial postings.
When you have introduced yourself, look at the introductions submitted by the other members of your team and compare their introductions to yours. Ask yourself questions such as:
Have they interpreted the task in the same way as me?
Have they omitted information that I think is important?
Have they included useful or relevant information that did not occur to me?
Feel free to make further postings describing yourself or to ask others to expand on their own introductions.
Project logs
One of the important tasks that we want you to undertake throughout the course is to keep your own project log in which you record the activities that you engage in and your reactions to them, including your reactions to what other members of your team contribute. It will be useful to start this task now. You can begin your log book by making some notes on your responses to this current activity of providing personal information at the beginning of the course and of receiving similar information from the rest of your team. You will also find it useful to record:
• Something about what you hope to gain from undertaking this course. What do you think this course is really about after reading the preliminary materials in Part One of the Course Guide?
• Something about where you stand in relation to the stated learning outcomes of the course, which are set out in Section 4 of Part One of the Course Guide. What skills do you think you will need in order to meet these learning outcomes? Do you already possess any of these skills, or do you feel that you will need to develop them during the course? Do you foresee any problems?
You might find it helpful to approach these questions by undertaking a SWOT analysis. This takes the form of listing your responses to the various questions posed above under the following four headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You can look at the relevant link(s) in the ‘Useful links’ section later in this document for more details of this approach.
We will be expecting you to refer back to what you record now when you are asked, at a later stage, to reflect on whether anything has changed as a result of your having undertaken the
various activities involved in the rest of the course. You will find it useful to be able to quote from your log in your TMAs. So this is a good point at which to start thinking about what to record and about the way in which you record it. If you have not already looked at the Project logs Resource Sheet then you should refer to it now.
Activities for Study Weeks 1 and 2
As a result of their differing backgrounds and experiences, members of a team will generally bring very different sets of values and opinions to any task that they are set. We would like you to investigate these differences in the context of a website evaluation exercise.
The websites to be evaluated should be ones that provides “Selling Online Flowers” an example web site: http://www.florists.com/. Each member of the team should choose a different website for their individual investigation, and provide a short evaluation (not more than 300 words) of their chosen site for the rest of the team. There is an obvious organizational issue here: how will you communicate with each other to ensure that you have not all chosen the same website?
Some criteria that you could use in your evaluation are:
1- Structure
2- Navigation
3- Presentation of text and images
4- Visual layout
5- Use of media.
To help you think further about such evaluation criteria you can follow up the relevant link(s) in the ‘Useful links’ section later in this document, or some of you may have your own suggestions for suitable criteria. Here again there is an organizational issue to be solved: how are you going to decide on a common set of evaluation criteria for all members of the team to use so that your evaluations can be compared meaningfully?
You should post your evaluation to the rest of the team via your team forum as early as possible at the end of the first week or at most at the beginning of the second week. Apart from providing a website address, so that other team members can visit your chosen site themselves, you should say what you think is good or bad about the site you have chosen to evaluate. You should give objective reasons for your assessment, possibly referring to the examples of website evaluation criteria given in the suggested links below.
Try not to be influenced by the submissions of your fellow team members; you can probably see these within the forum as soon as they have been posted. After you have posted your own evaluation visit the chosen websites of your team members and think about their comments on those sites.
By the end of the second week we would hope that you are each in a position to have looked at all the sites covered by your team. To prepare for the activity next week it would be helpful if you individually put all the sites in a rank order, from what you think is the best site to what you think is the worst site, and give a very brief justification for your ordering. We would expect that your rank ordering would draw on the opinions and reports of the other members of your team as well as your own personal preferences (you are likely to need similar techniques later in the course, so this is a good opportunity to try this as an individual and then see how the team make decisions). As soon as possible you should submit your listing for the consideration of the rest of the team.
Activity for Study Week 3
As a penultimate activity for this initial phase of the course we want you to attempt to combine the individual opinions of the team members into a single list, which represents the collective view of the whole team on the rank ordering of all the sites that you have evaluated.
The organizational issue here is more complicated, since you will have to decide on a rule for combining the views of the whole team. You may choose a simple mechanism, such as averaging the positions of the sites across all the team members’ orderings, or you may come up with a more sophisticated rule. You may, in fact, decide after looking at other team members’ reasons for their ordering that you want to change your own ordering before the final process of combining the individual results into a team ordering takes place.
To help you in your future team work we also ask you, as a team, to identify aspects of the team work that have gone well and suggest reasons for this, and identify aspects of the team work that need to be improved and suggest ways to improve. We suggest that you choose a maximum of four aspects, including at least one that is positive and one that needs to improve.
Advice note
However you achieve the tasks set for you in the first three weeks of the course, it would be valuable for you to make a few notes in your project log on your impressions of just how different people’s responses can be to the same activity, and how differently they are able to explain and justify their responses.
Deliverables
The only deliverable that we want you to submit as a result of your activities over this initial period is a single document for the team. This document should include the following.
1- The overall rank order that represents the agreed view of the whole team about the websites that have been evaluated.
2- An explanation of the mechanism by which you arrived at your collective ranking.
3- Your summary of the different aspects of the team work and suggestion(s) for improvement (maximum 250 words).
This document may not be easy to agree on, but we want you to try to arrive at a result and then to send it to your team tutor as an email attachment by 20 March 2015.
We want you to find out how well you can schedule your activities and communication, both as individuals and as a team, so as to complete a specified task by a given deadline. One of our intentions in asking you to carry out these initial tasks is to start you thinking about how you will make decisions as a team, about who will be responsible for ensuring that schedules are met, about who will be responsible for producing the documents that the team submits to their tutor, and so on.
Naturally we expect that you will each be recording, in your project logs, your individual impressions of the way things went, the way members of the team operated and interacted, and any roles and responsibilities that were identified and allocated.
Useful links
SWOT
Examples of SWOT analyses can be found at the following sites.
• A small business example of an architect’s self-assessment of what he has to offer:
http://www.toolkit.com/small_business_guide/sbg.aspx?nid=P03_6022
• A site run by Mindtools for all aspects of career development, including SWOT:
http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm
• An article from Entrepreneur.com giving advice on completing your SWOT analysis:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/entrepreneur/1999/june/17822.html
• A chattier article from ZDNet about SWOT and personal awareness:
http://www.zdnet.com.au/insight/0,39023731,20272552,00.htm
• A simple guide and a template produced for students (at Liverpool Hope University):
http://hopelive.hope.ac.uk/live/pdp/app8_swot.pdf
Website evaluation
Examples of website evaluation criteria and guidelines can be found at the following sites.
• A good starting point is IBM’s Ease of Use website:
http://www.ibm.com/easy
You will need to navigate to the most appropriate pages of this very comprehensive site.
Choose the ‘Design’ option from the menu on the left-hand side of the display and then the ‘Web guidelines’ option. Then select a further ‘Design’ option from the centre of the main display. Another useful path is to choose the ‘Ease of use design concepts’ from the Highlights section at the right of the first display and then select ‘Design basics’.
• Another useful site is Jakob Nielsen’s home page:
http://www.useit.com
Nielsen addresses issues relating to usable information technology. Again this is a very comprehensive site, and you may find it easiest to go directly to http://www.useit.com/alertbox, which takes you to Nielsen’s ‘Alertbox’ articles on specific aspects of website design. You could start with the article ‘Top ten mistakes in Web design’.
Appendix 1 Sample first submissions
The examples provided below do not represent perfect submissions but they do manage to cover nearly everything that was in the list of suggestions on page 3. Use your own style and judgment to determine how best to represent yourself.
Sample 1a – posted to the team forum
My name is Chris Jones.
I am the management accountant at a small family-owned firm that makes bespoke corporate stationery. The firm is growing and we have expanded on to three sites around the UK and so we need to be able to do business at a distance more and more frequently.
Motivation: I hope that this course prepares me to work more effectively online and I also hope that it shows me how to avoid participating in endless strings of emails that seem to be more about work avoidance than anything useful. I’ve always been in a position where I know everyone I work with but I know that this won’t last much longer. How do you build up a working relationship with someone you never meet?
Strengths: I’m good with numbers and I can present large amounts of info very succinctly.
Weaknesses: I’m probably too curt at times and I’m still pretty new to computing.
Opportunities: I studied M150 last year and I’m taking M257 this year too. I’d like to learn a lot more but most of what I know (bit of Java and http) I’ve learnt informally.
Threats: Work getting in the way of this course.
Study time: My working hours tend to be all over the place since I travel quite a lot. I’m due to be away for three weeks in March but I should be contactable by email. Ideally, I’d prefer to do more work before I go and after I return. Other than that, I’m fairly easy going. I usually study late at night after the kids have gone to bed and so you’ll probably see some very late messages from me.
Chris.
Sample 1b – posted to the team forum
Hello again.
I have chosen to evaluate easyJet’s website http://www.easyjet.com/ because they fly out of my local airport. As you will have seen from my introduction, I travel quite a lot to our other offices in the UK and we fly with easyJet when we can.
Which websites is everyone else going to evaluate?
I think we should use the five criteria given in the Activity Sheet. It will save us time devising any more!
Chris.
Sample 2a – posted to the team forum
Hi everyone, I’m Bernie Parker. I am taking M253 because I’d like to complete a diploma in computing and possibly go on to complete a degree at the OU. Although I don’t need to know much about computing professionally, I’m aware that more and more of my job relies on various computer systems and I feel a need to know more about how they work.
I’m a project manager by profession and I work for an international book publisher (non-fiction) in their London office. The publisher deals with a lot of international business and so I spend a considerable amount of time negotiating with colleagues in different parts of the world about a particular book and how it might be reworked for slightly different markets. So I’m going to look at BA’s website because I fly with them on business.
I am pretty good at pulling projects together although I’m content to stand back and let someone else have a go at that. I’m also good at researching around a subject and I tend to think laterally.
I study mostly at weekends as my work tends to keep me fully occupied during the week and, as a London commuter, I spend too much time on trains between work and sleep.
I’m partially sighted which, for me, means that I can see documents although areas of my vision are blurred or missing altogether. For that reason I rely on a magnifier and sometimes a screen reader to deal with documents that I receive and for working on screen. I’d rather talk about it than not, so don’t feel shy about it and please don’t assume anything.
I want to add ease of use by visually impaired users to the list of criteria that we’re supposed to use to evaluate websites. And what’s navigation? Choosing where you want to go on holiday? I thought that was usually called destination!
Sample 2b – initial log book entry
It’s clear to me that team working at a distance is becoming a critical skill and it’s one that I’d like to improve upon. Phone calls are great but it’s not always convenient to talk to Japan at 5.30 am, Bristol at 10 am and New York at 8 pm or later. Sometimes, it’s easier to use email but although information gets across better, decision making seems slower. I’m not sure why. I hope I’ll learn something about why during this course.
Useful skills: project management, researching new areas – I should tell everyone about these.
END OF MILESTONE 0

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Faculty of Computing Studies: Level 2 M253 Team working in distributed environments M253 Activity Sheet Milestone 0 Suggested timeline Study Week 1 Familiarize yourself with the course materials and post an introductory message to your team forum. Study W
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