ARCHIMEDES- A non profit organization, member of the BEDR Network
The global education system is rapidly changing towards customized education, experiential learning and life-long education. Archimedes is a Greek non profit organization which aims at educating students through a global network of Universities, companies and people of different cultures, educational backgrounds, disciplines and professions.The cross-disciplinary nature of this global network provides the educational and experiential background for the teams to work successfully and effectively on real-life, on going projects from the industrial and business world. With the focus on processes the “student” is able to connect his knowledge and experience with the problem at hand, competing and collaborating with the other team members. One student's in-depth knowledge becomes another student's in-breadth. This experiential educational model, as well as the concepts of Innovation, Teaming and Cross-Disciplinarity is what Archimedes is trying to establish in Greece, under the guidance of Professor James C. Seferis, global leader of BEDR.
Teaming and Project Work.
Students are divided into teams using certain criteria such as, field of interest, main area of knowledge, culture
(if different cultures are present) and hopefully age. The main reason this is sought is that a project team must be
inter-disciplinary and diverse so that all opinions are heard, team members can educate each other and improve their
"common language". The element of "Compete and Collaborate" adds to the efficiency of the team.
The projects that the teams work on are chosen from the industrial world and are either real problems companies deal
with and they are seeking for a solution, or are just good examples of innovative thinking and serve an educational goal.
Some projects fail and therefore are terminated. Others are successfully completed.
However, whatever the result is, the outcome is always positive in terms of figuring out what did or didn't work and how it could be fixed. On some cases communication between the students was problematic, or time difference between Greek students and Korean students for example made it difficult to work together. Sometimes language was the problem. These are problems every team in general has to deal with and technology, sources and communication tools have to be used correctly.
Methods of communication. To improve communication between the team members we have used a variety of solutions. Most of the times, all the work is carried out at the Archimedes "Headquarters" where students meet once a week or more frequently if it is needed. During the week email is the common tool for communication and collaboration. If they need to contact another team in the US or Korea they can also videoconference the other team. We have a blog set up for directories and organizing calendars and deadlines on a global scale and the information and data from the projects is either posted on the web site or distributed using plain old mailing lists.
A valuable lesson to learn is that technology isn't always effective. Although each tool has it's advantages, the disadvantages may be more difficult to overcome. For example when working with Korean students we found out that the spoken language is always a problem, so videoconferencing and teleconferencing are quite complex. Email and blogging on the other hand proved to be more reliable. On the contrary, sometimes the US students were hard to reach via email, probably because of the vast amounts of email US students usually receive. So in this case, one or two videoconferences a month can prove to be more helpful than daily communication via email.
In order for someone to work in teams, to learn how to listen and discuss options and solutions, it's really important to be open, accepting and efficient. Delivering on a deadline is just as important and when a team member volunteers to take on a responsibility they have to deliver. Otherwise they shouldn't have agreed to take that responsibility. Teaming skills in the modern world is a valuable asset and experience in such methodologies is greatly appreciated. That's why Archimedes invests on practicing teaming concepts and processes.