About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2803-2811
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain

INVESTIGATING VIRTUAL TEAMS: PATTERNS OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LEARNING TEAMS

G. Dafoulas

Computer Science Department, School of Science & Technology, Middlesex University (UNITED KINGDOM)
This paper discusses the investigation of communication and collaboration patterns in how virtual teams involved in Global Software Development (GSD). This work is part of the Joint Masters in Software Engineering (JMSE) Tempus project funded by the European Union (EU) involving six partner country institutions (three from Egypt and three from Palestine) and universities from UK, Greece, Italy and Germany. The scope of the project is to create a joint postgraduate degree in software engineering, delivered via blended learning across the two countries. The current trend in software outsourcing, remote software development and deployment of GSD teams led the consortium to investigate the integration of virtual teamwork in most of the courses in the programme. A critical aspect of the project was assessing e-learning, virtual team and GSD platform infrastructures available for supporting such work in a feasible and sustainable way. This led to a requirements elicitation amongst partners and industrial advisors in relation to the e-learning delivery mode, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) functionalities required and the GSD mode to be used including virtual team structure as well as communication and collaboration processes to be deployed.

The paper describes how the consortium organised two GSD pilots with the participation of virtual teams consisting of members residing in six locations of the two partner countries. Instructors from all six universities participated in the pilots, which were coordinated by Middlesex University in the UK. The University of North Texas in the USA managed the e-learning platform and server infrastructure for the GSD pilot. This deployment replicated several years of pilot investigation for GSD and virtual student teams in a project involving universities from UK, USA, Turkey and Panama. Emphasis is given on replicating realistic scenarios for virtual teamwork, while investigating how student teams would interact, collaborate and communicate in projects lasting from two to four weeks. The tasks are clearly described, each task is associated with a specific deliverable and hand-over periods allow exchange of work and ideas between different sub-teams.

The two pilots described in the paper focused on design and development aspects of database systems. The multiple sites, time zone difference with coordinators, cultural and national differences as well as language barriers affected the virtual teamwork as expected and were the focus of the investigation. A number of surveys were conducted amongst participants to assess prior experience with virtual teamwork, experiences and views on the GSD pilots as well as the cultural background of each member. The paper discusses in more detail how communication patterns emerged and how collaboration was affected in each team. Interesting findings on how the changes introduced in the second pilot affected the performance of teams are also discussed. The main contribution of this paper is to provide a perspective on setting up similar virtual teamwork, a method on investigating and reflecting on GSD work in learning teams and discussion on how recent developments in social networks could affect remote student work.
@InProceedings{DAFOULAS2014INV,
author = {Dafoulas, G.},
title = {INVESTIGATING VIRTUAL TEAMS: PATTERNS OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LEARNING TEAMS},
series = {7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-2484-0},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {17-19 November, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {2803-2811}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Dafoulas
TI - INVESTIGATING VIRTUAL TEAMS: PATTERNS OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LEARNING TEAMS
SN - 978-84-617-2484-0/2340-1095
PY - 2014
Y1 - 17-19 November, 2014
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2014 Proceedings
SP - 2803
EP - 2811
ER -
G. Dafoulas (2014) INVESTIGATING VIRTUAL TEAMS: PATTERNS OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LEARNING TEAMS, ICERI2014 Proceedings, pp. 2803-2811.
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