Making Virtual Teams Work: For F2f, Blended, and Fully Online Collaboration

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Whether at a blended or fully online institution, teams need to work efficiently. With strategies, tools, and effective practices collaborative groups, committees, and units can move beyond the conference room and become engaged and productive teams.


Dr. Angela M. Gibson serves as Lecturer in the Higher Education Administration Leadership doctoral certificate program and the Adult Education graduate program at Texas A and M University - Kingsville. Additionally, she serves as faculty for the Online Learning Consortium Institute for Professional Development teaching in the Online Teaching Certificate Program, designing and facilitating professional training, and serving as a mentor to professional educators. She is also a Contributing Faculty and Doctoral Advisor for the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in the Doctor of Education program. She has taught first-year, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional students, designed and developed curriculum, and created initiatives and strategic planning for student engagement, first-year experience, strategic learning, and innovation. Dr. Gibson has over 25 years experience in higher education, academics, and student affairs at a diverse set of colleges and universities. She made the rank of Professor at American Public University. Angela received a M.A. in Human Performance Systems, with a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design, from Marymount University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, with concentrations in Adult Education and Community College Education, from Texas A and M University - Kingsville. She has been published in various peer reviewed journals, is on journal editorial boards, presents at national and international conferences, and served on the Online Learning Conference Steering Committee and was the 2017 Chair of the Technology Test Kitchen. In 2019, Angela was a Campfire Keynote Speaker for the OLC Innovate Conference. Dr. Gibson is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and volunteers as an informal STEM educator creating learning opportunities at schools and community organizations as well as providing social media outreach for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). She is a recipient of the Online Learning Consortium 2014 Effective Practice Award. In 2021 Dr. Gibson received the USAHS Board Excellence Award for Excellence in Teaching Award.
Lori Kupczynski, Ed.D. has served over 20 years in higher education in the areas of English, Communication, Adult Education, Higher Education and Educational Leadership. She currently serves as a Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Previously, she has served as Associate Professor and Program Director of the Educatonal Leadership doctoral program, doctoral level transcripted certificate program in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) and the Adult Education Masters Program. She was the Recipient of the 2012 United States Distance Learning Association’s Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the field of Distance Learning Award and the 2012 Distinguished Researcher Award from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She also received the 2017 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award in the College of Education and Human Performance at TAMUK. Her research agenda focuses on developing a deeper understanding of interactions among adult learners in online learning environments through the development of grounded theory to explain the interactions within the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI). A secondary track of research is on new and emerging technologies complementary to research with adult learners online. Lori has published over 75 peer reviewed articles in the field and has presented at numerous prestigious national and international conferences.
Dr. Jim Brinson has over 15 years of experience as an environmental scientist, author, consultant, educational technologist, instructional designer, online science learning expert, and higher education faculty member. He completed his B.A, M.S., and Ph.D. at Indiana State University and his post-graduate work at both the University of Nebraska and the University of Maryland, and he currently researches and teaches courses in ecology, conservation, sustainability, and research methods at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. His current research interests also include the online teaching and learning of science, especially the efficacy of non-traditional laboratory learning spaces (virtual, remote, blended, etc.) and their associated technologies. He has over 50 professional publications, presentations, invited talks, and media articles, and has received awards for his research related to the teaching and learning of science.

Extended Abstract

Educational institutions and organizations are adding more elearning classes as part of course offerings.  Face to face classes are being converted to blended or fully online to provide additional choices and access for students.  Organizations are also increasing opportunities for professional learning, such as faculty training or staff development, through online mediums. 

Teams that plan out strategy, create initiatives, and develop curriculum are finding they, too, are working more online.  Much of the communication for these teams at traditional institutions has been in the form of email messaging.  However, after participating in several email conversations where the long and now convoluted thread includes the final, final, final version of documents, it is easy for participants to become frustrated and/or lose motivation and momentum for the work.

Such frustration can also stem from not feeling connected to or engaged in the team itself.  Connectedness to the individuals promotes deeper involvement in the work at hand and can increase commitment to fruition of the project or initiative. Community itself can be developed, even in formal situations, can be promoted through the online medium.

During the session, the presenters will open with a brief facilitated discussion with a statement of the problem and then discuss how by adopting specific strategies and tools, teams – whether at traditional brick and mortar institutions or part of more online organizations – can develop as a community and increase efficiency.

Participants will be asked to describe how they currently work on teams, face to face or online, state what technologies are used, and examine the strengths of the current functions and where there are gaps and/or frustrations in their work.

The presenters will then share research and applied effective practices with participants in two parts; 1) effective technology for team work; and 2) effective strategies to create, develop, and maintain virtual teams. Multiple examples of tools for various team scenarios will be shared. Strategies for robust and productive virtual teams will be shared and tied into the OLC Five Pillars of Quality Online Education.  Additional theories and practices from the literature will be presented for further application.

As part of the interaction during the session, participants will analyze their current and potential team, pairing, or committee interactions at their institution or organization. Then participants will determine what strategies and tools can be used best to support their stakeholders in moving from face to face to virtual teams at their institution.

Participants may use a current example of a team or a future project with a team to create a strategy through analysis. Stakeholders will need to be identified as well as determination of ease for adoption of tools, if there will need to be synchronous and/or asynchronous interaction, if face to face attendance is required for any part of the team work, what initial medium(s) can be used for strategy and technology integration, and purpose of the intended team work.  

Through use of the information provided in the session, participants can develop and take away a plan for the promotion and adoption of methods for effective team work through virtual tools and strategies with identification of support for the participant from their institution to apply such changes within their organization.