VIRTUAL TEAMWORK AS A MEANS AND AN END: IMPROVING COMPREHENSION OF THE CONTENT WHILE ENHANCING VIRTUAL TEAMWORK COMPETENCE. THE EXPERIENCE OF "CHANGE MANAGEMENT" AT THE UOC
This paper describes and analyzes the result of an innovative learning design adopted in “Change Management”, an elective course in the UOC, which is a fully online university. The design had three main goals: enhancing comprehension of the content, motivating and engaging students in their learning process, and improving the students’ competence in virtual teamwork. The paper describes the learning activities and presents the results of a student survey to assess the effectiveness of the design in reaching its main goals.
The students’ knowledge construction was developed through five learning activities, four of which were based on case studies. Three of these applied activities asked students to analyze cases of organizational change that they knew personally or through some close acquaintance. Since the UOC’s students usually have professional experience, they were able to provide an interesting and diverse set of examples of real organizational changes. To offer the students ample exposure to real cases of organizational change, students worked in teams to exchange information about, and analyze each other’s cases. Therefore, the adopted approach combined case analysis with collaborative learning. The necessary teamwork took place through technology-mediated communication.
To assess this design effectiveness an online survey was sent to 124 students, which got 65 valid responses.
The results of the survey suggest that students perceived this design as enhancing their teamwork competence (3,9 in a 5-point scale), while being interesting and motivating (3,79), and useful to learn the course’s content (3,85). These results tended to be higher for students without prior experience in collaborative learning at the UOC. Therefore, the desired goals were attained and the design was kept, with minor changes, in subsequent editions of the course.
In addition, students without prior teamwork experience valued collaborative activities more than students who had previously worked in teams in other subjects of their degrees. In contrast, no differences were found for individual learning activities. This suggests that the design can be useful in introductory courses where students are asked for the first time to learn in virtual teams.
Change Management is a quite recent discipline in university Degrees, and the adequate pedagogical for its courses is far from established. However, they often include case studies to enhance the comprehension of otherwise abstract concepts such as “resistance to change” or “emergent change”. This paper contributes to the scarce literature about how to teach Change Management, with the description and assessment of an innovative learning design that combines case studies with virtual teamwork.
In addition, while the literature on generic competences like teamwork is more abundant, more examples of good practices for online settings are needed. This paper contributes to this stream with a learning design that can be applied in a variety of online courses to improve teamwork competence. In particular, this learning design may be useful in courses that need to convey an applied flavor to their theoretical content; courses aimed at improving their students ability to work in virtual teams; and online courses that introduce teamwork for the first time in a Degree.