This course takes place within the framework of the bachelor's degree program IBW of the FH Vorarlberg and is exclusively aimed at the students of this course at the FHV.
When talking about a so-called ‘virtual team’ we mean the association of at least two cooperation partners who reside in difference places and/or time zones while working together and who are – for an unknown duration – cooperating for a shared goal with the help of information and communication technology. In our globalized economy it has become more and more standard to implement such virtual teams whose members are involved in common value creation processes while residing in different countries, time zones, and cultures. It goes without saying that these teams are relying heavily on communication media like e-mail, phone, phone conferences, web meetings, video conferences and the like. Because of the spatial and/or time distance it is not possible anymore to discuss various topics spontaneously by meeting in each other's office. That’s why a more concrete planning of the processes is necessary. Virtual teams are, as we know, very real and have become – in various forms – a topic in everyday work life. This is the reason why students should be prepared for these new forms of teams who mainly work together with the help of new communication and information tools/technology.
This course will be taught in English language for full-time and part-time students. The reason for that is simply that there are no two separate courses, but full-time and part-time students will be working together in mixed teams in order to enhance the experience of virtuality.
It is the aim of this course to facilitate skills in communication and self-reflection as well as in project management (among others controlling), team work, and academic writing. The course is divided into analogous and digital work phases. Once again in order to enhance the experience of virtuality, students and lecturers will only be physically present during two instances – the kick-off-event and the final meeting. All the work and the meetings/consultancies with and without the lecturers will otherwise be done in a digital way without any physical presence.
- In a so-called kick-off-event (September, 20st) with compulsory attendance the two lecturers will introduce to all students (full-time + part-time) the topics, contents, and procedures of the course. Furthermore, it will be explained how the students shall work with the e-learning platform ILIAS and they will be informed that some folders will open and close at very specific time frames (fixed deadlines!). The lecturers will additionally inform the students about the infrastructure of the course and will introduce the teams in which the students will be working together. It is vital that all students leave the kick-off-event with a clear and precise understanding of the tasks ahead. That’s why all questions shall be posed during the event and not later.
- In the coming phases of the course students will work (exclusively) independent with each other without any presence of the lecturers. At December, 13th (Friday) a final meeting of all students and the lecturers will be organized in order to reflect on the results of the tasks and to evaluate the course itself. During the semester students will only be able to interact with the lecturers virtually – details how this is possible will be presented during the kick-off-event.
- a) After the kick-off-event students shall independently discuss in their group how they will tackle their tasks, develop a precise plan (work packages with calculation of their time contingent), and take over one of the necessary roles in the group (team leadership, controlling, marketing, project management). Please note that team leaders may only be part-time students. The reason for that is that one aim of this course is to highlight the possible difficulties in the communication process between team leaders and team members (and, of course, vice versa) as well as difficulties in the communication processes between team members themselves. Since part-time students have already collected experiences in these matters due to their jobs, they shall take over the function and role of team leadership in order to serve as “role models” as how leading (in good and bad ways) is being done nowadays in everyday work life ("peer learning").
- b) Later some of the groups will obtain a technical term from the St. Gallen Management Model, for which they will have to read literature and prepare a so-called Vlog which they upload on YouTube (in "unlisted"-mode) in order to explain this specific term. The definition shall be as extensive and well-crafted as necessary so that another group can understand the meaning of this technical term without further research.
- c) After the first wave of groups has defined their technical terms, the second wave of groups obtains the definitions of the first groups plus an additional technical term which they have to define and explain (again via Vlog on YouTube). It is important that these two terms are explained in relation to each other and that their relation is obvious and clear to possible readers and to coming groups who have to work with these definitions.
- d) After the second wave of groups has finished their definitions, these two definitions will be given to different groups with the task to solve a specific case-study according to the newly learnt terms and definitions and design and develop a presentation with a poster which should intuitively explain the terms and the solution for the case-study to non-experts. Please note: This presentation will be done virtually. It is necessary to find a way to record/film the presentation of the case-study in such a way that both the poster as well as the team members presenting the solution (it can be one person, it can be all of them) are visible. The presentation will then be sent to the lecturers via Dropbox, WeTransfer or whatever means possible (the GDPR has to be met! – meaning: link and password for the link have to be sent in two different e-mails) and the lecturers will pick the five best virtual presentations and present them on the 13th of December.
It is important to note that in phases a) through d) …
- … a very strict and firm time schedule is in place because the necessary folders in the ILIAS-system to obtain the terms and to hand in the definitions/solutions are only available during a very specific and short time frame
- … no group realizes in the beginning which term they will obtain, which terms relate to each other and with which group(s) they will have to work together
- … only students who have overtaken the role of “team leadership” in their respective groups may communicate with the lectures with the help of so-called “speaking times” (in Skype)
Finally, the five best virtual presentations will be presented in a so-called common market place (December 13th) and students are obliged to hand in a reflection paper about their experiences in the team and with their task. Also, the course itself will be evaluated during this meeting.
Summing up - each group has to do the following:
a) explaining one (!) technical term of the St. Gallen Management Model via a video-clip and upload it in "unlisted"-modus on YouTube and share the link with the lecturers (with the help of ILIAS)
b) solving one (!) case-study with the help of two defined technical terms of the St. Gallen Management Model and prepare a virtual presentation and poster
Summing up - each individual has to do the following:
a) working in his/her group for defining a technical term, solving the case-study and preparing the presentation/poster b) taking over responsibility for the implementation of specific technological tools in order to make it possible to work virtually c) taking notes during the group process and the handling of information technology for writing a reflection paper of four pages lengths about what went well in the group and what did not (latest deadline for handing in the printed version of the reflection paper is the 13th of December, however, it will also be possible to hand it in earlier, namely with the handing in of the virtual presentation which will take place approximately at the beginning of December).
Students develop …
- per team one definition of a specific term of the St. Gallen Management Model, the solution to a case-study, and a poster (Template) in order to present the solution virtually in form of a video
- an individual reflection paper (Template) in the form of a narration as an individual and subjective discussion about the experienced process/team work in order to learn from this experience; the reflection paper has to be written from the perspective of the specific role the individual had in the team (team leadership, controlling, project management, marketing)
- 80 % of the grade will be determined by the quality of the reflection paper
- 20 % of the grade will be determined by the actual work in the group and the implementation of the technical tools
The team work itself shall function as a way to experience problems, difficulties, and challenges of (virtual) team work. That's why it is alright (and we actually hope) for problems to occur so that the individual team members can then reflect upon them in their reflection paper – the cornerstone of the grading!
Online Task Management
Students will use at least five technical tools/gadgets which are common for virtual teamwork. The usage of the tools is attached to the specific roles in the team, so each team member is responsible for the useful and efficient implementation of his/her tool in the working process of the group. The following tools shall be used:
a) MeisterTask (Role: project management): It is an intuitive tool for project- and task management which helps to plan team work and which is free of charge, see here:
b) Skype (Role: team leadership): The famous tool is used a lot as well for private calls/conferences as for business calls/conferences. It is free of charge and will be used for phone/video conferences between the groups and the lecturers. Each group is obliged to at least organize one Skype-conference in which all group members and the lecturer is present. Please note: The lecturer explicitly uses the freeware version of Skype and not the business one. Please keep this in mind when trying to arrange a phone call!
c) Microsoft Excel (Role: controlling): Even though many specific programs are used in companies when it comes to budget planning, calculations, and so on, Excel is still often used for various reasons and functions. During this course Microsoft Excel will be mainly used to prognose and control the time budget reserved for each specific task of the group d) YouTube (Role: marketing): YouTube may serve in this course simply as platform in which videos can be uploaded in "unlisted"-mode to make them visible without making them watchable for everyone. Therefore, YouTube may serve here as a platform for the Vlogs of the individual teams explaining the technical term of the St. Gallen Management Model. e) ILIAS (everyone): The electronic learning platform of the University of Applied Science Dornbirn serves here as a representation of deadlines when it comes to uploading specific data. As in work life, it can happen that certain information can only be transferred during a specific time frame and not before or after. This is recreated here with the help of folder structure in ILIAS.
- Rüegg-Stürm, Johannes; Grand, Simon: Das St. Galler Management-Modell, Bern: Haupt 2015 oder 2017
- Rüegg-Stürm, Johannes; Grand, Simon: The St. Gallen Management Model. English translation of the fourth generation of the German text, Bern: Haupt (2016)