Just an Aside
It’s interesting to see the correlation between actual network designs, such as bus, ring, star, etc. and the communication networks under discussion in our text. [Tubbs, 2012, p. 178] “The set of rules governing the setup of a network is called its topology.” [Griffiths] Whereas the communication networks also have a form of topology referred to as group size, structure, and type. This was just a random perception on my part.
To Mask or not to Mask
The concept of “Idea Generation and Anonymity” of and using computers to mask participants made me uncomfortable. It was as though participants were being “spared” their reality, such as shyness, quiet voices, lack of physical appeal instead of gaining confidence and learning to deal with these attributes and enabling their fellow team mates the opportunity as well. One study found that “anonymous groups generated more unique ideas and had higher levels of participating, yet were more critical and less satisfied than nonanonymous groups” [Tubbs, 2012, p. 197]. Roger Schwartz addresses one of the issues that can arise from anonymity, that of trust, written for the Harvard Business Review in 2013.
And even though there was comfort and satisfaction while being masked by the computers from the participants who felt intimidated by group participation, the conclusion from some of the experts stated that “It is likely that the face-to-face human interaction without the presence of a computer may increase satisfaction with the final decisions due to the human and social aspects associated with such interaction.” [Tubbs, 2012, p. 199]. I was delighted when after the various assessments, the experts came to almost the same conclusion I held which was that to deny the group its function was to withhold a real learning curve for those who felt challenged and more importantly, the enormous dynamic of a group activity was being thwarted by anonymity. There is a level of energy that is generated by a group and participating in that environment is both stimulating and very rewarding, in my experience. Further, we learned in a previous chapter that there are developmental factors, such as attitudes, values, and anxieties, in small group interactions and I for one, would not choose to see these minimized [Tubbs, 2012, p. 139].
Further, the potential stress the researchers investigated could easily be grouped under the “cognitive dissonance theory” [Tubbs, 2012, p. 141]. The twist on this was that the more difficult the entrance into the group, the more value was placed on it. Cognitive Dissonance Theory examples and discussion plus GREAT cartoon!
Does a virtual group interaction produce superior results to a face to face grouping? I think it depends on the subject matter. And as an example, here is a real life virtual group meeting that gives examples of “production blocking, free riding, and evaluation apprehension” [Tubbs, 2012, p. 197].
Personally, I enjoy group participation, whether online, or face-to-face, I would not enjoy anonymous or masked communications.
- Griffiths, A. Computer Network Designing, n.d. Street Directory. Retrieved from: http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/115323/networking/computer_network_designing.html
- Tibbs, S. L. A Systems Approach to Small Group Interaction. McGraw-Hill. New York City. 2012. Print.