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M253 Team working in distributed environments

Course: M253 Team working in distributed environments (completed)

Level: 2

Credit Point: 10

Start Date: 17 May 2008

Overall module result: Pass

Overall Continuous Assessment Score (OCAS): 78%

Overall Assessment Score (OAS): 73%

Assignment Score
TMA 01 77
TMA 02 78

Of all the courses I have done with the Open University this is the one I liked least of all. This course was all about how you deal with the issues that arise in a distributed team environment. You are given some very basic instruction to the various roles and responsibilities within a team, and how to analyse and decompose a problem into manageable chunks. You are then expected to, as a team, come to some agreement about which roles and responsibilities each individual will take on for the duration of the first milestone. Once that’s done you are ready to tackle the first milestone.

You are then issued a very basic initial problem statement, which describes some web-based system an imaginary client requires. The team then does some individual work by analysing similar systems currently on the web, and produces a report for the team. The team then collates all the information into a single report, as well as an individual report by each student in the team for submission to the tutor for the first milestone.

Each milestone delves a little deeper into the project. Although the reports you produce get increasingly detailed and complex, you never actually design or implement any part of the system, which can get a little dull. This course demands a surprising amount of work from you considering this is all for only 10 credit points.

The hardest thing about this course was working with a remote team that you only ever communicate with via the provided course forum or via email. It’s also quite hard having to constantly adjust your schedule and way of working so as to gel with the other members of the team. The tutors take a back seat on this course and tend to offer very little help. Even when one of your team members vanishes from the face of the earth with not so much as a peep a week before the final milestone is due!

I have often wondered if the vanishing team member was actually a real student. At one point I had convinced myself that it was a tutor in disguise. Slightly paranoid, I know, but I was looking at it like this: the tutor could have been a vanishing student in loads of teams and disappeared from all the teams at the most inappropriate moment as a way of testing how the teams would deal with a total meltdown scenario at such a crucial time. Yeah OK, maybe a bit on the paranoid side. It’s just that the whole vanishing student thing was just a bit too strange for me.

Anyway, I passed. So things could have turned out much worse than they did.


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