This week I found a study that analysed the affective side of group formation in online courses. In particular, I thought that the following quotation about the development of trust is true of any ICT-moderated context (such as a networked, virtual workplace):
…members need to be able to trust and feel secure about the other members in the community in order to iteratively, recursively engage within collegial, constructive commentary. If that relationship is not established community members might view the constructive comments personally, and perhaps as offensive. Establishing the foundations of a compelling, resilient relationship between community members is essential before offering any kind of constructive criticism. Being able to express an emotion or offer feedback when communicating within a group signifies contented or comfortable group member dynamics that allow for deep interaction with one another.
This interested me since I recently began working on a new team where a majority of my colleagues are collocated in another city. It also resonated with me given my interest in the formation of Personal Learning Networks and organisational climates that support networked, collaborative/cooperative learning. Not long ago, Harvard Business Review provided some interesting tips for developing trust among virutal teams. I think it holds true for any sort of collaborative online work:
- Leverage “swift trust.”
- Pro-actively build interpersonal trust.
- Communicate with predictability.
- Share and rotate power.
Ideally, as Jeff Merrell has observed in his classes, evidence of community will begin to emerge through ‘half-baked’ thinking—displaying trust towards the group—and passionate discussion. As Santos and Hammond (2006) quite aptly suggest, though, community formation is ‘not an automatic and easy process’.
Bonus find: Check out this gem of a post on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) from Harold Jarche. Wow.