The Team and Cohesion
The Netherlands, Indonesia and Australia are the nationalities that comprise this team. Each one of us resides in our native country and none of the team from outside The Netherlands has met. There’s some 18,000km separating the Australian component from the Dutch, with approximately 8,000km between Australia and Indonesia.
This team came together through Carol (one of our 2 coaches) and her contacts that she’d made in past ThinkQuest competitions. Carol had coached Sigit in past ThinkQuest Netherlands competitions, both of them having met through the old ThinkQuest Internet Challenge back in 2001. They used to chat in the old ThinkQuest chat room and struck up a friendship through there and have been in constant contact since.
Willem was introduced to Carol and Sigit in early 2003 through the ThinkQuest Netherlands website where we were trying to put together a team for that competition. It was through Willem that Dirk-Jan was invited to coach, being Willem’s computing studies teacher at his school.
With Dirk-Jan onboard the team, Willem invited Anneke and Carol asked her eldest daughter, Hilary and then the team was complete!
It was decided that Hilary would write the content as she was the native English speaker in the team. It was also much easier for her to access information because of her being Australian and the site is very much about the impact of introduced species in Australia.
Both Anneke and Willem worked on the translation of the site into Dutch, that being their native tongue. There was much discussion (through emails to the whole team) regarding the content and how it was coming along. It was acknowledged that it was a very large job for 1 student to do, but all agreed that it was far better to be done by the native speaker. Anneke did the bulk of the translation as Willem was required to assist with most of the technical aspect. There was always conferring between Anneke, Hilary and Carol with regards to understanding certain aspects of the topic.
Sigit was our fabulous site designer! Whilst Anneke, Willem and Hilary (along with Carol) could chat online through MSN Messenger, Sigit didn’t have that luxury as Internet availability for him is extremely limited in Indonesia. We all relied on Sigit’s very insightful emails to give the team direction. There were several designs that Sigit made, and it was through the email discussions that we decided on the final look of the site.
The programming was done by Willem and Sigit. They conferred through emails as to which was the best way for this task to be handled.
Hilary had difficulties finding information on feral animals. She spent some 5 hours at the local university’s library, only to find 3 books with any content value on the specified topic. She spent at least another 20 hours doing online searches in order to obtain information. Her internet connection was only dial-up, which impedes searches. Also, during this time of research her home computer had major problems which required the hard disk to be wiped, so much of her research and written work was lost. She was without her computer for approximately 24 days. She spent most of her summer school break writing for the website – some 6 weeks of being at the computer, for at least 5 hours per day.
Dirk-Jan assisted with all the technical questions. His expertise in this area was invaluable to the team. He gave support through emails to the team as well as talking with Willem and Anneke at school, throughout this project. When the other team members from outside The Netherlands didn’t know how to go about a technical task, Dirk-Jan was there to send off a quick email with instructions on how to do it, even though his English was quite limited. His knowledge and support was an asset to all the team.
Carol was just “there”! If there was any question raised, she quickly answered it, either through an MSN message or in a more detailed email. Carol ensured the smooth progress of the project, giving moral support to the whole team.
Each of the team members did this outside the realms of their respective education systems, as individuals and not a school-based project.
The diversity of this team was vast. Distance wasn’t the only
barrier, but language sometimes proved to be problematic as all
team emails were in English. Time zones were also another
difficulty that we had to overcome in order to finish the
project. The east coast of Australia where Hilary and Carol
reside is 4 hours ahead of Indonesia and 10 hours ahead of The
Netherlands. In order for Hilary and Carol to chat online with
Willem and Anneke they had to be online early morning (around
6.00am) so they could discuss things online. It was also rather
amusing for discussions as to Hilary going for a swim when the
temperatures in Australia were around 35° Celsius, when it was
snowing in The Netherlands! Different time zones, different
lifestyles, different hemispheres and cultural diversity made
for a wonderful learning experience for the whole team.