Overall Project Reflection

Overall,
I think this project gave me more insight into working with a virtual team on an international level. It taught me how to deal with language barriers, timezones, events happening in other countries, as well as how other people collaborate together and what standards they adhere to. Skills I developed were learning how to use Google Hangout and Drive.

As written before, my team really didn’t have designated leaders. I served as “project manager” for my group since I reached out to my UCF group first. Peter, our editor, made sure they did things on his end. He kept the project together. We just all kind of checked up on one another to make sure we were on task and meeting deadlines.

The communication tools (Google Hangout, Google Drive, e-mail, WhatsApp, MS Word, and others) we used were always on hand so if we had any questions or concerns, we were only a text or e-mail message away. We started dividing up the work and started writing our portions of the document right away.

We didn’t have too many difficulties except for helping with translations in some areas of the document, but other than that, all went smoothly. I think the most creative part of the document was being able to design it with photos and being able to make additions to our document and selected topics.

Honestly, there wasn’t much I would have done differently, except maybe had a group discussion on the topic. Since many of us came into the group later for whatever reason, the topic may have been selected, and by the time all of us came together, we already had a topic and divided it up. So, I didn’t worry about it too much.

My teammates had some similar experiences. Here are several: from the Ireland team, Clara stated that she found the experience to be very positive and everything went smoothly with the team. She was appreciative of all of our contributions, and couldn’t find anything negative to say, didn’t find any difficulties, or faults within the group. Communication went smoothly and kept to deadlines. Most group expectations were met. She concluded that she would want to work in a similar collaborative project in the future.

Charles from my group (Team 3: UCF) stated that: “This experience in both education and professional collaboration was quite eye-opening for me, as I’ve never worked with foreign students or classmates on a project like this before; I can also say my outlook has been expanded toward the usefulness of applications like Google Drive, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts as far as professional communication for a project goes.”

Despite, that everything was great. There was no added pressure and everything was complete in a timely manner. My teammates were great people to work with. Best of all, I made one or two friends along the way, so we’ll probably get a chance to talk and stay in touch after we complete the class. I would love, love, love to work with a team like this again in the future. This is my last technical writing course at UCF, and I’ve had nothing but great experiences from my professors and fellow students. So, hopefully my next collaboration will actually be working in a workplace setting. I’m looking forward to my future as a technical communicator. 🙂

 

IDP Reflections: Development of Skills and Competencies – Pt. 2

Q: What new skills did you develop during the course of the project?

Aside from learning to work with international students, learning how to use certain tools is something that I did accomplish learning. Google Drive and Google Hangout were two tools that I learned how to use during the project. These are most used tools for collaboration for groups and I am thankful that I did get the opportunity to get acquainted with these programs.

I also learned about the other side of dealing with language barriers when it came to text. The French team had a difficult time in some spots translating the document because there were technical words that did not have a French translation and in some areas, the document had to be changed to fit certain French words. If not the document would have been much longer and if translated back to English, it probably wouldn’t have made much sense. Fortunately, everything worked out and the project was successful.

IDP Reflections: Development of Skills and Competencies – Pt. 1

Q: What were the most valuable things you learned from doing the project?

I think the most valuable thing I learned was working with an international team. Throughout my technical writing courses, I’ve worked with groups, but this was different because we had to deal with certain things such as time zones, language barriers (as in, British Standard English and American Standard English), and working with students translating documents. It also made me think about certain situations, such as emergencies. We came close to one during our group (more details here), but fortunately, all ended well. If it was more serious, then it would have definitely changed the dynamics of the group and the project overall.

IDP Reflections: Project Management – Pt. 2 Did you have a team leader?

My group didn’t officially have a team leader. I kind of took on the role of “Team leader/project manager” since I reached out to my group first the week after we selected our group. I think Peter served as group leader since he was the first to reach out for his team and he served as head editor as well. Technically, we all served as team leaders and team helpers making sure our other teammates stayed at on task and get the help they needed if be.

IDP Reflections: Project Management – Pt.1 : How did your team manage your project?

My team did well managing the project. Not really much to write about for this part of the blog as I wrote about this in depth already.

Our document  “Guide to Identity Protection When Creating User Accounts” was divided up into sections already, so we were able to choose sections that we were familiar with or ones we had an interest in learning about. We even accomplished breaking down the introduction and conclusion. We had one team member do the index. Team members who came in later didn’t have an issue with accepting the remaining topics.

Once we started working on our topics, we just communicated using the tools we decided to use for the duration of the project. Since we really didn’t designate “project managers” for our groups, we just checked in with one another from time to time. I served as “project manager” for my team since I reached out to everyone early on.

We managed to use this management system until the end of the project. We completed it, and it all worked out.

IDP Reflections – Collaboration Pt. 2: Tools Used

2. What tools did you use to collaborate?

This was one of the most thought out processes of the entire collaboration. We wanted to use something that was easy to access both online and mobile, and something we all could actually use and be able to obtain and without any barriers.

For my team, UCF, we ended up utilizing Canvas e-mail and grouping system. We also used our UCF Knights e-mail accounts. For the Irish and French groups, they used their school e-mail accounts and Google Drive. None of us used Sulis, which was the collaboration tool that was suggested. By the time we all had access to Sulis, we were well on our way already utilizing our e-mail accounts and  WhatsApp, so we just subconsciously ruled it out.

Overall, we ended up corresponding via the WhatsApp text messaging system (UCF had our own group, then we had another for T3 Team),  our school e-mail accounts (using a grouping system), for UCF, we continued to use Canvas and Google Hangout for face-to-face meetings, used Google Drive for sharing files and documents, and Microsoft Word for creating the document itself.

The Full List

  • WhatsApp – text messaging
  • School E-mail accounts – group contacting
  • Google Drive – document and file sharing
  • Canvas (UCF) – messaging, group document sharing
  • Google Hangout – face-to-face conversations (UCF)
  • Microsoft WORD – document creation

I think all of these tools were effective in achieving our group goals. This was the first time I actually used WhatsApp with a group (I was accustomed to using one called GroupMe), Google Drive, and Google Hangout, so that was a learned lesson in itself. I know a lot of companies use Google apps and tools for collaboration, so it was a good thing that I had the opportunity to be able to use these. All of these tools are definitely something I can add to the resume later on. 🙂

IDP Reflections – Collaboration Pt. 1

Since we finished early, I decided that it would be best to actually write my reflection blog posts via Q&A, categorical style. I didn’t want to sound too repetitive in my previous and future blog posts, so I felt at this stage, the questions will help me better understand the whole collaboration process and working with my teammates, as well as have a bit more to write about.

  1. At what stages did the translators collaborate with the writers?

We all started communicating with one another right away. The French team was involved at first with deciding on the topic and how we were going to organize the document. After my team (UCF) & Ireland teams finished the document, we sent it over to the French team about a week or so later, and they finalized it within 2 weeks around late February. During the translation process, the French team had a few questions about some of the translations (read more about that in depth), but other than that, they were able to complete the document. So, it wasn’t an exact time in which we stop/started working together, it was pretty much a collaborative effort from the start.

International Documentation Project Reflections: Week 5

There hasn’t been much going on group wise as our group actually finished early. I, however, did send a message to both teams just to check in to make sure everyone was doing okay and if they needed help with anything. I think at this point, most people were focused on getting their blogs/diaries done.

In other news, I am doing an internship with my alumni community college, Tallahassee CC for their Workforce Development department assisting in social media and marketing. I’ve been trying to use this as an opportunity to use some of my technical communication skills, but I’ve been mostly using my Mass Communication skills more, which in this case, makes sense. I haven’t done any blog or newsletter posts as of yet, but I have been trying to focus more on the audience aspect, which mass communication and technical communication both rely on respectively. The department has an ESOL program and I’ve definitely been taking note of what I’ve learned in this course so far and I’m trying to brainstorm what I could do to help further promote and engage the public towards this program.

Spring Break is coming up, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to think. I’m still in the process of moving out of my apartment (long story) and back with the parents for a while (*every soon-to-be college graduate’s dream, right?*) But I really need this time to self-reflect and regroup. I think for everyone it will be a much needed break. 🙂

Until next time!

International Documentation Project Reflections: Week 4

Just a quick update here. If you haven’t read the last post, you can view that here.

There wasn’t much of anything to report for this week as we’ve completed everything on the English side of things at this point.

Team France was able to translate our document and there was a bit of decision making going on as far as certain words that needed to be modified so our editor Peter, had to go in and rearrange some words (there was a lot of technical words that didn’t have a specific meaning in French). I also learned that translating from French to English is tougher, and it makes the document longer because you have to break down words or substitute words. This can also be an issue when translating the document back into English as once the words are translated, the document may not even make sense.

I remember when I did my online internship with a Libertarian political and social news website PanAmPost that focused on Latin America, I had to translate articles from Spanish to English. The difficulty with that was there were lots of articles that were pulled from various countries in Latin America, and many of these countries used a variety of different Spanish dialects. Many of the words didn’t show up in the Spanish dictionary. Luckily, we had people on our team who were native Spanish speakers and others who were familiar with those dialects.

I managed to speak with my team here at UCF and we had a discussion about the blog posts and other topics. We all didn’t know what else to write about but I think by the time we finished discussing everything, we’ll all end up with about several paragraphs in our latest post. 🙂

Until next time!

International Documentation Project Reflections: Week 3

*See last week’s post for details on the last group meeting.

Two awesome things happened. First, I didn’t have to deal with jury duty. It was canceled. And second, we finished our document early! Our completed documents were scheduled to be sent over to the French team today (Feb. 20), but our group worked so diligently, we managed to turn in our drafts last Thursday and by Saturday, the drafts were completed and submitted to the French team. They started working on the document immediately.

I had trouble with my draft due to the fact that it was way over the 250-word limit (not by much it was at like 338 or something). I have a tendency to be long-winded when I write due to the fact that I like details and I hate leaving things out, all without trying to sound too wordy and ambiguous (I noticed that I have been using this word a lot since I started technical writing. Some words just tend to grow on you. I hardly used this word previously). Being long winded is something as a technical writer that I still have difficulty with, even though I do like taking complicated instructions and making them easy for people to comprehend.

Peter our editor managed to get my section close to 250. He chopped about 70 words and took out a quote that I had used. It was a great decision on his part and worked for the sake of the document. I think the reason why I struggled with length was because I had trouble trying to find exact topics on usernames and user privacy so I had to just find username tips and suggestions. Later on realized that I was over thinking the assignment. This is something I tend to do a lot. Having anxiety doesn’t make things any better. I find it ironic that I like taking difficult things and making them simple, but on the other hand, I can make things more complicated than it should be. This is something I need to work on. This assignment opened my eyes to this more so than ever.

I’ve been fortunate to have been placed with a group that is very hardworking, but also very easy going. No added stress. This week the French team will be working on translations. Our final document was a little over 1,800 words and they are instructed to use “Simplified Technical English”. One of the members reported that it’s taking them longer to do because of this specification. This is one process that I am looking forward to seeing play out. Having to translate something in English is difficult in itself, but having to do it from a technical standpoint is another…