In the 21st century team working increasingly requires online cooperative skills as well as more traditional skills associated with face to face team working. Virtual team working differs from face to face team working in a number of respects, such as interpreting the alternatives to visual cues, adapting to synchronous communication, developing trust and cohesion and cultural interpretations. However, co-located student teams working within higher education can only simulate team working as it might be experienced in organisations today. For example, students can learn from their mistakes in a non-threatening environment, colleagues tend to be established friends and assessing teamwork encourages behaviour such as “free-riding”. Using a prototyping approach, which involves students and tutors, a system has been designed to support learners engaged in team working. This system helps students to achieve to their full potential and appreciate issues surrounding virtual teamwork. The Guardian Agent system enables teams to allocate project tasks and agree ground rules for the team according to individuals’ preferences. Results from four cycles of its use are presented, together with modifications arising from iterations of testing. The results show that students find the system useful in preparing for team working, and have encouraged further development of the system
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