Group projects in college have been learning experiences for me. Generally, groups run smoothly as they are short-term obligations in which there is a defined deliverable with a relatively limited amount of work. When group work has failed in the past, there have often been misunderstandings from the beginning, particularly expectations of quality, understandings of division of labor (or lack thereof), and varying levels of care to a project. This became evident earlier today when a class member highlighted that investment in a project can be limited to one’s degree of satisfaction in regards to appeasing a professor’s rubric.
A project in digital humanities necessitates collaboration. Digital humanities projects are more involved and require each member of the group to truly buy in to the project. A step that my team made today was to sketch out a charter, the set of guiding principles that our team will abide by until the project reaches this iteration of fruition. Brandon Walsh and Sarah Storti from the University of Virginia’s Scholars’ Lab guided us in project management skills and in developing a charter. Brandon and Sarah discussed that there are two components of a project that are of note. First, we must define what we plan to build. Second, we must define how what we are building will lead to applicable experience and personal growth.
My group is particularly well-suited for this project, because each member has well-defined expectations and believes in this project for more than a grade and course credit. We have promised each other to be flexible and mindful of the obligations of others, while also holding ourselves to the highest of standards: creating a model upon which future projects can be based. We are committed to studying coeducation for the sake of how knowledge gained from its study can help the university today to have better gender relations and to more suitably handle divisive issues in the future.
Likewise, we are committed to our project for the sake of acquiring transferable skills. For instance, we have each explored the numerous options that WordPress provides to us and are committed to leaving with skills that we do not already have. In just this first week, I have been reintroduced to the magic of historic rediscovery. History can be distilled to the readings of secondary and tertiary sources. The real fun in history for me is going directly to the source and examining original artifacts. What I gain is a better ability to parse a seemingly limitless database of sources and the knowhow to publish and curate the sources for reflection and academic research. Through this project, I have already had the opportunity to spread my wings beyond my majors of business and politics. For instance, exploring Photoshop and some font galleries, I created the logo that we now use for our website. (The white background works for our site!)
The model of leadership that has developed in our group has been one of competency and apprenticeship. We have each approached the problems to which we are most experienced and helped each other to understand what we have done so that our fellow members can take a turn on the next go around. Even though we each have assigned roles, it is important to remember that we are not limited to the titles. Clearly, we will each have individual responsibilities for the site. More importantly, we are not simply accountable for the success of the project’s deliverable but for the success of our mutually anticipated personal and professional developments.