Constructing successs in a virtual faculty team
McClendon, Vivienne J.
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Technology has become a ubiquitous tool in education in many countries around the world. Despite a technology investment of $6 billion in U. S. higher education (Jones & Paolucci, 1999), debate regarding technology usefulness has continued in the field of Instructional Technology (Sheekey, 2003; Cuban, 2001). Increasing authentic uses of technology for students and faculty is one way to illustrate the value-added by such educational tools. Working together in a virtual faculty team (VFT), American and Brazilian members of an international multicultural exchange grant used a combination of collaborative online tools to construct project success. This qualitative study sought to understand how an existing virtual faculty team collaborated and constructed perceptions of success throughout this study. Despite various technology and practical problems, participants agreed that levels of success were achieved in terms of grant goals as well as additional personal measures of success. Communication and organizational management assisted in developing such success through information sharing and collaboration. Success markers included increased cultural awareness, student collaboration and relationship building, and personal and professional connections between universities and among local partner schools. The virtual faculty team persevered beyond the scope of project funding, in contrast to "global virtual teams" (Jarvenpaa & Ives, 1994, p. 26), a business model, which characterized such groups as event-related and temporary in nature. Recommendations for practice include group flexibility and planning for success, potentially increasing satisfaction and sustainability for future virtual faculty teams.