Team dynamics

Now that our first assignment is all done, but the short presentation later today, I wanted to reflect on team dynamics. It’s fair to say that there was a challenge or two in this first project. I don’t consider that bad, as this week has been primarily about learning about one’s self.

Part of this is the unfamiliarity the members have with each other. Most people here have known each other for four days and we’ve been working quite intimately. The benefit time gives you is that you learn where to go and to not go with certain people. Unpredictable environments can negatively impact collaborative productivity (Dunin-Keplicz, B. & Verbrugge, R., 2004).

How am I reacting to working with different personality types? Which types are more or less complimentary to mine? What about the intrinsic things we have that goes beyond type and allows us to be chameleons and cope well outside our comfort zone? Some do this well, some not so much.

We ended up, more or less, each doing a piece of the first assignment, with a lot of back and forth and feedback loops. I don’t want to judge the benefits of this in this one specific instance, because someone will always likely be the point person to edit and submit a group project, or to pull all the collaboration together into one final draft.

A touchier question for me is one we probably all grapple with. Is it better to do a part of the project which we know we’re not suited for because we want to expand our skillset, or should we go to the place that’s familiar for us since it’s easier for us to be sure of the end result? This certainly requires some soul-searching. If we’re way outside our comfort zone, will we know when we need to back off, or ask for help or not?


Dunin-Keplicz, B. & Verbrugge, R., 2004, Engineering Societies in the Agents World, pp107-122, Springer Berlin / Heidelberg

Taming an MBTI beast

I found what we covered today to be a pretty important thing and it’s left me struggling a bit to frame it in light of learning and working in a team environment. In our morning session with Hillary, the MBTI inventory was both reassuring and disturbing.

At a surface level it wasn’t really surprising. I know I’m analytical, organized and prefer working through something by breaking it into manageable pieces. Due in large part to being a project manager, I can fairly easily take on the role of trying to get things to a logical conclusion. This is fine if you are a client and project lead and you’re paid for getting something done. Maybe not so much where the boundaries and roles are less clear and far more fluid.

I approach anything in much the same way, including ‘banging’ through a first draft of an assignment. I often write in a stream of consciousness and stop to review after producing way too much material. However, when I consider those traits in light of the projects we’re now working on, how do I apply my tendencies in a way that will most positively work with a group dynamic – one that will often include people who are less verbal or express themselves in a quieter or more reserved manner?

In producing good team projects, I’m really grappling with how to use my traits to their fullest potential while ensuring they don’t engender in teammates a feeling that my tendency to organize and focus is coming through as taking control or dominating in any way.

I’m trying to make sure I’m always bouncing things back to people, asking their feedback and ensuring I’ve acurately captured what they’ve said. Is that enough? Any thoughts from those who plot anywhere close to an ESTJ?

First impressions of Royal Roads University

More aptly, this post might be called, “What I crammed into my first day and a half.” Seriously, though, it’s been a bit busy and this post will not do it justice. This is not to suggest that I’ll be posting recaps of everything I do because there is more MA focused blogging to come. I’m not sure if that will be at a WordPress hosted blog or this one.

The surroundings

It’s quite a beautiful campus and location, on a hill sloping down to the water in Colwood, a suburb of Victoria. Situated amongst old growth forest on former First Nations land, the campus is pretty breathtaking. Hatley Castle, and Nelson and Grant buildings, in particular, really show off the military college history of the place.

Plus, there’s a big focus on sustainability and recycling and that’s a pretty big plus for me.Unfortunately, since I broke the 18-55 lens on my Nikon D40 a couple weeks ago, I’ll be using my lower resolution Fuji S602Z for the next two weeks. Oh well, they look fine for smaller, online pics. On that note, I’m looking for a good deal on one of the Nikon compatible super zooms. I’m thinking one of the 18-200’s, but I digress.

Continue reading

Masters blogging

A lot of my writing on this site will now chronicle the trials and tribulations of obtaining a graduate degree while working full-time, trying to maintain a marriage and family, and hopefully still getting a little exercise along the way.

Something I’ve been pulling together for some time and which is finally happening, is the MA I’m pursuing. The focus is learning and technology and I’m doing it through Royal Roads University in lovely Victoria BC.

In truth, the only time I actually know I’ll be at RRU is during the two weeks beginning July 28th. Most of it is a distance and online cohort and whether I do another residency next year will be determined by whether my MA ends up being thesis or course based.

We’re just rounding the end of a two week pre-residency session, dissecting a few chapters of texts on adult learning and research and a few sundry pieces about issues like cohort based learning and the application of new learning to professional pursuits. We’ve also been getting our feet wet in the Moodle instance set up for this cohort.

Out of the past week’s readings and online forum posts has come a first assignment asking me to examine my assumptions about learning within a constructivist learning framework. If I understood the epistemological questions, the assignment was really about asking myself if I thought people learned largely through direct, observational methods, or more by inferring and reasoning. I’m not sure at all that I hit any sort of nail on the head with what I wrote.

Luckily, this first paper is as much about practicing academic style and showing a baseline for further development than it is for anything else. It will be used primarily as a feedback mechanism and will be updated at the end of my two week residency, which begins next Monday.

A reversable food crisis

The biggest problem with the current food crisis is not that it exists, but that it never should have happened in the first place and can definitely be reversed. And it’s not just the wrong-headed rush to create biofuels, but the products our food system produces the most of (and how it produces them), which exacerbate the reduced availability of crops to directly feed people.


When you consider that the 25% of US corn crops currently used to produce ethanol will rise to over 30% next year, and is mandated by George Bush to double present levels by 2015, there would seem to be no relief on the horizon. As the flavour of the day, Corn’s price is going up and farmers are beginning to convert other crops to corn in order to cash in. It’s an answer to high oil prices, but it hardly seems the right one. We use roughly the energy we produce in making biofuel, and there are environmental impacts to that production, too.

Continue reading