RLCS, Revista Latina de Comunicacion Social
Revista Latina

DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2016-111616en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS # 71 | 2016 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

IM García-González, C Robles-Andreu, B Correyero-Ruiz (2016): “Management of work teams and radio products in university radios”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 71, pp. 696 to 714.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2016-1116en

Management of work teams and radio products in university radios

Isabel M. García-González  [CV] [oORCID] [gGS] – Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y de la Comunicación, Universidad Católica de Murcia, UCAM, España – imgarcia@ucam.edu
Carmen Robles-Andreu [CV] [oORCID] [gGS] – Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y de la Comunicación, Universidad Católica de Murcia, UCAM, España – mcrobles@ucam.edu
Beatriz Correyero-Ruiz [CV] [oORCID] [gGS]  – Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y de la Comunicación, Universidad Católica de Murcia, UCAM, España – bcorreyero@ucam.edu

Introduction: At universities, cooperative and collaborative learning are substituting the types of group work that were commonly known until today, placing the student in the middle of his or her own learning as another actor in the processes of acquisition of competencies, with university radios serving as experimenting labs for this.  Methodology: In this research, an analysis of all the work processes that are developed in iradioUCAM, the Catholic University of Murcia’s radio, is conducted.  This analysis takes into account all the processes performed from the launch of a new season until its ending, according to the defining criteria of cooperative and collaborative learning.  Results: The application of this methodology allows us to identify four sequential work phases, which are differentiated according to: time limits, processes developed, objectives to be reached and type of learning employed. Discussion: The results obtained evidence that in the process needed for the development of the final products included in dayparting, techniques and tools belonging to cooperative as well as collaborative learning, are used. Conclusions: iradioUCAM has generated its own model of management of a university radio, which once improved and adapted, could serve as a guideline for other university radios, as well as other educational scenarios where professional work realities are re-created. 

Cooperative learning; collaborative learning; university rado; learning processes; management of teams.

1. Introduction. 2. Methods. 3. Discussion 4. Results. 5. Discussion and conclusions 6. List of references.

Translation by: Mario Fon, B.A, M.S, University of California, Davis.
 Spanish to English Translator

 [ Research ] 
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1.  Introduction

Group learning is one of the pillars of the methodological approaches that are fostered by the Bologna reform, and is based on facilitating the acquisition of competencies to bring the educational setting closer to the professional world. However, many research studies on group learning still use a traditional perspective, as it is thought that there is an “optimal vision” of knowledge that is delivered to the large group, as if there was only one correct way to learn, and group work is criticized, on the grounds that what will be achieved with this methodology is that different students will have knowledge on different aspects of the work entrusted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In this article, we try to demonstrate that the work dynamics of a university radio implicitly contains group work from a cooperative as well as a collaborative perspective, and this way of functioning greatly resembles the inner workings of a professional radio, where workers are increasingly asked to be able to manage the entire process of creating a radio product.

We start from the case study of iradioUCAM, a model of university radio that has its peculiarities as compared to other broadcasters that have appeared in higher learning institutions in Spain. From its beginnings, five years ago, to the consolidation of its structure, iradio has stood in favor of group work and the adoption of professional roles for its management. The model that will be presented has been perfected in the past few years in order to achieve a motivational and effective dynamic for the management of radio teams and products.

The final result is a model of university radio that implements cooperative and collaborative learning through different phases in order to achieve a greater professionalization of the student body, successfully solving a fundamental problem in university radios: the continuous renovation of its staff and its dayparting that comes as a result of the cyclic character of university studies.

2. Method

With the objective of understanding the type of learning that is used at the university radio iradioUCAM, an analysis tool was designed, based on the defining criteria of cooperative and collaborative learning. Starting with it, each of the processes developed for the launching, continuation and ending of a season of radio programming were analyzed.

Therefore, it is necessary to know and understand the characteristics of group learning, and more specifically, the characteristics and differences between cooperative and collaborative learning. Likewise, a tour of the nature of the university radio will be conducted in order to contextualize its particularities and more specifically, the particularities of iradioUCAM as a professional testbed and teaching innovation.

2. 1. The importance of group learning in the university setting: nuances between cooperative and collaborative learning

The point of view of the students and the social relations that are established between them, as well as with the professors and other members of the community are aspects that have been researched by authors such as Astin (1993), Light (2001), Pascarella and Terenzini (1991). On their research, the authors are aware that having in mind the student’s vision can enrich the educational process. To this, we should add that in these work flows, the student participates in the learning process more directly, demonstrating greater personal and academic growth. Also, this learning process also re-enforces the student’s motivation, so that he or she feels more satisfied with his or her education as compared to students who have learned in isolated conditions.  Next, we will present a few general remarks that are related to group learning, which under our point of view, should be taken into account before delving more into our research:

  • Improvement of academic results: most of the research works that have investigated group learning have reached positive conclusions, as pointed out by authors such as Slavin (1990), Natasi and Clements (1991), Johnson and others (1991), Cuseo (1992), Millis and Cottell (1998), Springer, Stanne and Donovan (1998) as well as Johnson, Johnson and Stanne (2000), among others.

  • A greater number of research works on learning in small groups: despite the lecture-type class being the most common in education throughout history, research on small groups has preoccupied a larger number of researchers who work on learning methods, according to Johnson, Johnson and Smith (1991) as well as Slavin (1989-1990).

  • The two most-utilized group-learning methods are cooperative and collaborative learning. For some authors, both concepts are used synonymously due to their essence of working in groups with the student’s participation in the entire process.

As related to the last aspect, many authors confuse both terms in their research, or do not establish preliminary remarks to explain choosing one over the other when referring to group work. But in the present research work, these nuances are important, as it is necessary to break down these concepts in order to observe those nuances that explain the management of the work teams in a university radio.

3.1.1. Cooperative learning

This type of learning appears as an alternative to traditional learning.  As its name indicates, cooperative learning “requires students to work together in a common task, share information and support one another” (Barkley, 2007:18).  Also, in this research, we also take into account what was proposed by Smith (1996, in Barkley 2007:18): “the instructional use of small groups so that the students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning”.

In this type of learning, the professor retains the role of the expert in the subject and of authority in the classroom, preparing tasks, assigning them to the group, managing time, as well as making decisions and supervising the resources to be used. The direct observation of the process allows the professor to monitor if the students complete the task assigned, and therefore, if these processes are being developed as previously established (Cranto, 1996; Smith, 1996 in Barkley, 2007:18).

Most of the studies related with cooperative learning are positive as previously mentioned, although if research on different models of cooperative learning groups in primary and secondary school have been prolific, research on group learning in higher education is more limited.

2.1.1. Collaborative learning

For this last reason, we will now delve into collaborative learning, as later on, it will serve us to explain to a large degree, the management of work teams that take place in the iradioUCAM university radio. If we take into account the contributions by Guitert and Jiménez (2006), then collaborative learning “proposes that team work is the achievement of a common objective through exchanges that include individual and shared work, so that three fundamental aspects should be utilized: attitudes, skills and knowledge” (Rugeles, Mora and Metaute, 2014:1553).

Matthews (1996, in Barkley, 2007: 19) ensures that collaborative learning is produced when “the students and the professors work together to create knowledge. It is a type of pedagogy that draws from the premise that people create meaning together, and this process enriches them and makes them grow”.

Learning in a collaborative manner allows the individual to receive feedback and to better know their own rhythm and learning style, which makes easier the application of meta-cognitive strategies to measure achievement and optimize performance. Also, this type of learning increases motivation, as it creates in individuals feelings of belonging and cohesion through the identification of common goals and shared responsibilities, which allows the person to feel “part of”, stimulating productivity and responsibility, which will directly affect his/her self-esteem and development.

Also, another interesting aspect about collaborative learning that should be mentioned is that as it is horizontal learning, among equals, a “continuous process of negotiation of meanings, of establishment of shared mental contexts, outcome and platform, at the same time as the process of negotiation”, is necessary (Coll and Solé, 1990, in Calzadilla, 2002). All of this, according to these authors, allows for the laying of the foundations of knowledge through the verification of the connections between learning, interaction and cooperation, as the individuals that intervene in a learning process mutually affect one another, exchange projects and expectations, and rethink a common project, which leads them to the mutual goal of a new level of knowledge and satisfaction.

Delving into the role of the professor, we can say that in this type of learning, the instructors should play a minimum role in the planning and directing of the group work. Although we start with the premise that the instructor is responsible for structuring the learning tasks, follow up the group’s progress, and even intervene if the students deviate from the proposed subject, he or she is not a key figure in the development of learning, as opposed to the cooperative learning case.

2.1.3. Factors that differentiate cooperative and collaborative learning

Once the concepts of cooperative and collaborative learning have been clarified, we believe necessary to establish conceptual facts, as there are some researchers who, as previously explained, are proponents of clearly distinguishing among the two, as cooperative learning differs from collaborative learning in that the use of groups supports a learning system that maintains the traditional line of knowledge and authority in the classroom (Flannery, 1994), while for others, cooperative learning is nothing more than a sub-category of collaborative learning. (Cuseo, 1992). However, other authors, such as Millis and Cottel (1998) sustain that the more reasonable focus consists on contemplating cooperative and collaborative learning as belonging to a continuum that moves from the more structured (cooperative) to the least structured (collaborative).

Therefore, Bruffee (1995) argues that while the aim of cooperative learning is to work together in harmony and mutual support for arriving at the solution, the objective of collaborative learning is to create reflective, autonomous and eloquent persons. This author also adds that while cooperative education could be appropriate for children, collaborative learning is more appropriate for the university setting (Barkley, 2007: 19).

In this research work, we argue that both types of learning are viable and necessary in the university radio setting in order to achieve the educational objectives proposed for its members. In this sense, it is difficult to find an author who explicitly establishes the combination of both types of learning, but we do use the work by Calzadilla (2002) as a reference. In her articles, this authors sets a series of guidelines that should be followed in order to create dynamics of collaborative learning, and within them, we have found a starting point that can be used to explain the management of university radio teams and products that are found in iradioUCAM through cooperative and collaborative learning. We say “starting point” because we, unlike this author, differentiate between collaborative and cooperative work.

We are conscious of the difficulty that delimiting borders between one and the other can imply, which makes it so that many times, these borders are blurred and their competencies mistaken. However, later on, we will try to set the limits that we have detected, bases on our own teaching experience.

Before explaining our work dynamics and group management, we believe it is relevant to briefly contextualize what the university radio model consists of, and what type of radio iradioUCAM is. This will allow us to better understand the importance that working with innovative teaching methods through cooperative-collaborative learning strategies has been for us.

2.2. University radio as the scenario of cooperative and collaborative learning.  IradioUCAM as a platform of professional experience

University radios are a type of medium that have their own personality, which is found between the public and the cultural. They are non-profits, and have specific objectives of dissemination of culture and scientific, technological, humanistic and artistic knowledge for the population, in general, and its own university community in particular (Vázquez, 2012).

In this research study, the main objective is to focus the attention of the university radio as an education scenario from the beginning stages of the medium, as Omar Rincón Rodríguez (1998) affirms:

“University radio exists as a separate genre because from being an alternative to cultural radio, it has generated elements that ensure its own identity. It exists because it greatly differentiates itself from other broadcasters, as far as its contents, the variety of its programming, and the way that this is done. It exists as a different aesthetic proposal. And it exists overall because it is the campus turned communication media; a space that ensures that the education of the listener at the same time that is fosters the development of the student” (Martín-Pena, 2013).

As related to the previously discussed, we also find a few authors such as González Mairena (2011), or Martín-Pena (2013), who attest that the important thing is that the launching of a university radio project should not reproduce communication models of the large media, “but should make available an alternative channel to mirror the intrinsic richness of university life in all its aspects and project the queries that arise within it” (González Mairena, 2011 in Martín-Pena, 2013: 144).

Being conscious that each university radio in Spain possesses its own nature, which is sometimes conditioned by the type of University where it is framed, and it is in these differences where the richness of university radios lies, we will briefly review them in this sense, to focus attention on the nature of the different Spanish university radios as well as their differences and common denominators.

Of the 81 universities that currently exist in Spain, both public and private, as well as traditional or virtual, radio experiments that are still being operated or have just started, have been found in a total of 34 of them (Martín-Pena, 2013).

Of the thirty-four Spanish universities that possess a university radio, many typologies exist, and as Martín- Pena y Contreras-Pulido have attested, “none of the Spanish university radios have a common denominator, except for the own entity that start them: the university, which allows us to affirm that all the university radios answer to a series of specific parameters” (2014: 97).

But despite not having a series of specific characteristics in common, Fidalgo (2009 in Martín-Pena and Contreras-Pulido 2014: 98) assures that “we can affirm that we find ourselves with common bonds of union such as youth and the freshness of the content they broadcast, with music occupying a great part of the content”.

However, for many of the authors, another common denominator of university radios should be the performing of a public work. Reia-Baptista (2011) points out that university radios, forcibly, have to find their own models that are based on public commitments, and lists three main vocations of these broadcasters: “public service vocation; a reflection of the university’s own mission; experimentalist and innovative vocation, of shape as well as content.  The university radio seen as a laboratory, where one can exercise the freedom of imagination; cultural dissemination vocation; focused on the training of the new public in more difficult or least explored areas. (Reia-Baptista, 2011 in Martín-Pena, 2013: 149).

In this sense, then, we should take into account the role that the student community plays as it grows around the university radio, as López Vidales (2014: 23) affirms, this is “a great community that is still active and participative outside of the classroom, constructing a “product” that is theirs, to which they imprint part of their individual identities to shape a different collective identity, and where many spill their creativity”.

2.2.1. The pecularities of Iradio UCAM

Establishing training and experimenting in the area of Communication as fundamental axes for its creation, iradioUCAM was created in 2010 within the Faculty of Communication at the Catholic University of Murcia as an initiative of the research group Digitalac, but not without the interest and the fostering by a large group of students who, impassioned by the radio medium, demanded a greater volume of labs in radio. The radio is an extra-academic training activity that since its birth was backed by the university institution, and it was understood to be an added value to the academic training of the students.

On the 23rd of April, 2010, iradioUCAM broadcasted its first radio program named “Arte en la palabra”.  This was one of the four projects that for two and a half months –until the end of the academic year-, served for experimenting with the formulas, processes and work routines needed for the development of a university radio.

From its origins, iradio has broadcasted its programming through the internet, first through streaming online and later in a podcast format lasting no more than thirty minutes, creating a varied dayparting with various types of content, in magazine format.  Despite being linked to Communication studies, its contents are as varied as its components, as access has been given to the entire university community, for example, students, Teaching and Research Staff (TSR) and Administrative and Services Staff (ASS).  Although most of the staff is comprised by students from the Faculty of Communication, many individuals have participated in it, including students and professors from other departments.  Due to this, more specific training was designed.

2.2.2. Teaching innovation in IradioUCAM.  Towards professionalization

The organizational structure of the radio has been forged throughout its five years of life until becoming what today defines it as a platform of professional experimentation.  This denomination has as its origin the objective on which iradioUCAM basis its work: the acquisition of professional competences that are linked to the radio medium.  For this, as many roles and professional routines as needed have been integrated in the productive processes in order to perform the work that encompasses the original idea of a product to its public dissemination, going through production, recording, editing, etc.

As the fruit of experimentation and evaluation of the work performed each season, of the needs that have arisen, and the non-resolved processes, the organizational structure has become consolidated with the creation of five large teams, which are:

    • Production team

Under the supervision of a team of two or three general producers from iradioUCAM, each program counts with a member that represents this indispensable figure.

The production work mainly consists on the achievement of those elements that are necessary for the creation of a program: audio clips, declarations, interviews and clearances, as well as other tasks related to other work teams such as the Communication team, creating information related to the weekly program as well as generating content for the social networks.

    • Technical team

Composed of all the technicians of iradio that work under the supervision of a coordinator who is in charge of monitoring the work and the technical controls and who acts as the resource person who the students could resort to when they have doubts on any issue in this area.

    • Communication and design team

This large team is the one in charge of working on the visual identity of iradioUCAM as well as the maintenance of the website (publication of the programs, news, designing promotional campaigns), maintenance of social networks, etc.

    • Editorial team

This team includes the editors, newscasters and presenters.

    • External and special events team

The frequency with which iradio participates in external events has led to the creation of a team that is exclusively dedicated to the organization and production of these external events, which require and imply an additional effort by the entire radio team.  Members from the rest of the teams as well as the main staff are embedded to it.

It should be noted that the programs that should be rewarded due to their work, effort and growth are the ones that attend these external events, and they serve not only as an example to the rest of the staff, but more importantly, as an element of motivation to keep on improving.

The execution of these functions, which is supervised and evaluated by the radio’s coordinators, is designed so that the students acquire a large number of competencies that can be classified according to the degree of specificity within general competencies (teamwork, abilities in interpersonal relations, critical ability, creativity, etc.) and specific competencies (organizational, planning and directing ability; capability and ability to search, select and prioritize any type of source or document; capability and ability to express oneself with fluidity and communicative efficacy; capability and ability to use informational and communicational technologies and techniques, etc.).

The importance given to training within the radio would not make sense if monitoring that was parallel to the student’s academic performance was not conducted.  Therefore, from the start, the membership of the student to the project was conditioned by the student’s academic results obtained in their official studies.  This implied a review of the academic records of each student once the exam period corresponding to the first semester (February exams) was concluded.  If the results were not satisfactory, then the student lost his/her right to continue being part of the radio project he/she belonged to until a positive result on their grades was not shown.

We should not forget, as López Vidales (2014: 23) affirms, that for students, a university radio implies, among other things, fulfilling their education tasks.  In this sense, it should be said that many university broadcasters have put into place some kind of innovative teaching project affiliated to faculties of communication, such as:  University of Huelva (UniRadio), Europea Radio (European University of Madrid), InfoRadio (Complutense University of Madrid), Radio Unizar (University of Zaragoza) and iradio UCAM (Catholic University of San Antonio, Murcia).  Although the nature of each project is different, the common denominator found in all of them is their adaptation of communication studies to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). In the case of iradio, it is a radio that is sponsored by the Faculty of Communication at the UCAM.  In the academic years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, a teaching innovation project was put into place –as described in detail in Correyero, Garcia and Robles (2013)-- that explained the interest for converting this broadcaster into a tool that could contribute to the better professional preparation of our students.

3. Results

Once the analysis of all the process found throughout a season of radio were concluded, the results allowed us to divide it into four separate phases. In each one of these phases, issues related to the duration of each phase, the objectives to be reached, the processes started, and over all, the type of learning employed for the successful reaching of all these objectives, will be explained in detail.

3.1. Phases of implementation of cooperative and collaborative learning in the university radio: the case of iradioUCAM

In order to understand the work system of iradioUCAM, it is necessary to describe that the cyclical character of academic studies is mirrored in the continuous renovation of its staff as well as its dayparting.
Year after year, the students that comprise the radio enter and exit the team, conditioned by their personal and professional circumstances, while many others decide to access it for the first time.  These movements of people provoke a periodic re-structuring that usually coincides with the ending of the present academic year and the starting of the new one.

There are many reasons why these fluctuations occur, and these motives could be summarized taking into account three types of students:  the ones that abandon the project, those who become part of it once again, and those who become part of it for the first time.

In the case of the students who decide to leave the radio, the main reasons are: the finishing of their studies, and therefore, of their university life; the receiving of a scholarship to study abroad temporarily; or the need to focus their attention solely on their studies, either as a self-made decision, or due to a decision made by the iradioUCAM coordinators, as a result of their analysis of the student’s academic records, as previously mentioned.

On the other hand, we would like to mention former members of the radio who have shown interest in becoming part of it once again.  These types of cases are related to what was mentioned above, meaning, those students that return from studying overseas and request their re-integration, just as those who had lost their right to be part of the radio due to their failure to meet the minimum academic grades required.

Within this type of students, the case of those who are either linked or not to the institution, and who request being able to access the radio once again should be noted.  Their reasons are mainly due to three motives: to not stop practicing or perfecting their radio knowledge and abilities, not wanting to let go of their feeling of belonging to the project, and lastly, that the (radio) program they were part of had not found a natural replacement that would allow for its continuation in the dayparting.  Then, many of the products are maintained, or are recovered when one or more of its members decide to re-take it.

Tending to this important assessment, it is necessary to explain that just as the composition of the staff varies every year, the dayparting varies as well.  In spite of the fact that three out of the four programs that started their broadcast in iradioUCAM still exist, it should be mentioned that throughout its seven seasons, there have been many products that have been born and have disappeared when all or an important part of its members have stopped belonging to the radio.  This means that in great length, the meaning of the projects come from the group of people that created it, so that the identity of these people is inextricably intertwined to the essence of the program.

The arrival of new staff members always implies a revitalization of its structure.  The new members want to be part of iradio because they want to learn how to make radio.  When they arrive, they may want to affiliate themselves to any of the existing programs, either because they feel in tune with the subject matter, or as in the case of the more active and decisive new members, because they want to start a new project conceived individually or orchestrated by a group.

With this medley of ideas, during each month of September, the coordinating team of iradioUCAM re-designs its structure with their staff in order to create a coherent dayparting. The connecting of people with subjects, roles, tasks, capabilities, abilities competencies and hopes is the key for achieving the objective of our university radio: that the students that make it possible do so through a learning process that is directed and continued, where they can acquire the greatest number of professional competencies that are linked to the radio medium.

This process of learning is done through a series of phases that we have established taking into account four variables: its duration; the objectives that are to be achieved in each one of them, either in the general sense of iradio, as a group according to each program, or individually with each one of its members; the processes to be started in order to reach the objectives set out; and the type of learning employed in said processes.

In this way, we will explain, through four phases, the work that is performed since the start of the season, with the addition of new members to the iradioUCAM staff, until the end, when an evaluation is made of the program, its members, as well as all the global and individual processes that were performed.

As we have argued for in our research, cooperative and collaborative learning stand apart from each other in their formulas and objectives, but their combined use could be very beneficial if they are implemented at the right time and with the right people. We will now explain how in each of the phases, we resorted to either one or the other as a function of what we wanted to achieve.  Taking into account that both can complement each other, we will start with cooperative learning, due to its more structured and directed character, to later move forward to collaborative learning, which will give us greater flexibility as far as the involvement of the instructor was, which is inversely proportional to the student’s involvement in his or her own learning.

Returning to the article by Calzadilla (2002) –which we mentioned in section 2.1.3. Factors that differentiate cooperative and collaborative learning--, and knowing that her proposed guidelines only reference collaborative learning, we have thought appropriate to list said guidelines to compare and contrast them with each of our stages in a constructivist interpretation in search for new knowledge on these types of learning methodologies.  These guidelines are:

  1. A detailed study of the capabilities, deficiencies and potential of each member of the team.

  2. Establishment of common goals that integrate individual goals.

  3. Creation of a plan of action, with specific responsibilities and meetings for the assessment of the process.

  4. Permanent monitoring of the team’s progress, at the individual and group levels.

  5. Taking care of the socio-affective relations, starting with the feeling of belonging, mutual respect and solidarity.

  6.  Progressive discussions around the final product.  Evidently this type of dialogic learning facilitates the development of cognitive processes, such as observation, analysis and ability to synthesize, follow instructions, compare, classify, make decisions and solve problems, where interaction enriches the results and stimulates creativity.

Next, the phases mentioned above will be presented, explicitly detailing the following issues:  duration of the phase, objectives to be reached, processes performed and type of learning employed.

3.1.1. Phase 1. Starting of a new season coinciding with the beginning of a new academic year: Training iradioUCAM

  • Duration:

This phase is developed during the month of September of each academic year, and involves three work processes: enrolment in the iradio Training, the development of the iradio Training course, and the final selecting of the projects that are derived from it.

  • Objectives to be reached:

The processes developed in it are geared towards creating a solid base on which a new radio season can be set, so that the objectives used for the creation of these processes are fundamental for guaranteeing the continuity of the radio as a learning platform.  These objectives could be summarized into one: to design a new radio season.  But more specifically, we could say that they are: add new staff members to iradio; re-construct its internal organizational structure; renew and construct work teams that give continuity to the existing programs; and raise, analyze and agree on new program proposals, with these coming either from the radio coordinators as well as staff members, or those who have been newly added.

  • Processes:

Taking advantage of the period previous to the academic year, each September, iradioUCAM celebrates an initiation and integration seminar on the radio called Training iradioUCAM.  Everyone who is interested in becoming part of its staff, and who has completed the enrolment form published on its website can attend.  This is worth mentioning, as through the enrolment form, the coordinators receive detailed information about the preferences, objectives and interests of each of the potential members of iradio.

Once all the information obtained through the forms is filtered, this intensive course is structured in which all the requests have their place, and 95% are included in the project.

The course is organized so that the new students can assimilate, in shape and content, the radio’s identity.  For this, the members from past seasons that continue in the project are involved in all the processes.  As we will shortly see, these members act as key elements of integration and instruction in all the phases of the season until a level of equality and horizontality at the workplace is reached.

If we talk about the essence itself of the Training iradio course, we could say that it is designed to: welcome those interested to form part of the university radio’s staff; inform about the iradio project in all its dimensions –beginnings, history, growth, structure, operational guidelines, specific training-; train them in a general and more specific manner depending on the profile they are interested in –broadcasting, technique, production-; introduce them to the work teams according to the programs; orient them in the creation, exposing and defense of radio projects; and lastly, evaluate them and design with them a work program according to their capabilities and potential.

Then, at the end of the course, each one of the members of iradio should be part of a group that will work in a radio project.  This project will be presented and evaluated, by the coordinators and the rest of the staff members as well, and will culminate with its introduction, being made available to their classmates once it is outlined and ready to be put into practice.

  • Type of learning:

If we cater to the learning categorization that we have presented, we could say that this stage alternates cooperative as well as collaborative learning.  This conclusion is made taking into account the figure of the “instructor”, as we can differentiate between two different types.  On the one hand, we can discuss the instructor of cooperative work when we talk about the iradio coordinators, as these have designed a learning plan that is completely guided and set with guidelines, in which they are defined as experts on the subject.  On the other hand, we find the students, who, as part of the iradio staff, act as collaborative instructors who do not assign tasks or structure teams, but act as equals in the continuous process of discussion and negotiation in order to create common knowledge that is embodied in a new radio project.

3.1.2. Phase 2. Work draft programs

    • Duration:

    This phase comprises the period from the definite approval of the radio program project until the third program is broadcasted.  This period of time should not go beyond the first two weeks of the month of December.  Taking into account that the iradio broadcasts start in the middle of October, we believe that two and a half months is a reasonable amount of time for putting it into operation.

    • Objectives to be reached:

    All throughout this period, the work is oriented toward the design of the radio program’s structure, the delimiting of tasks for each member of the group, the identification of the professional roles that each member should play, the working of each section and content of the programs, as well as the expression forms and its staging, as well as the continuous evaluation of the results.

    • Processes:

    Once the Training is finished, the teams begin to start to work independently from the rest of the staff.  Now the focus of attention is based on testing the structure of the program planned in the project in order to shape it, filling it with content, and doting it with its own sound identity, and experimenting with its mise-en-scene.  This work is performed through a process of direct interaction between the radio coordinators and each team, who prepare a finished product that is ready to be recorded every week, named pilot program.

    While the instructor maintains a certain distance with the student’s work during the preparation of the program, on the day of the recording, the instructor supervises each of the details –structure of the program, content, script, audio, technique, broadcasting, staging-.  This implies an exhaustive supervision of all the work performed for the sake of criticizing it in the most constructive manner possible.

    During the period of recording of pilots, the group works towards the perfecting of its product, and during this time, they can record as many programs as necessary.  The inconvenience of this process is that the group can become demotivated when they see that the work does not finish forging, and at this point something has to be done in order to counteract the negative feelings.  The criticisms that are given after each recording should be objective but assertive, and should come, in great lengths, from the own members of the group, even when the criticisms from the coordinators are added.

    The composition of the teams reminds us that within each program, there could be a member that is knowledgeable on the processes and routines of the radio.  This could imply a possible acceleration of the processes in the same way that the level of connection that is established between the members could be, but sometimes it is not the people, but the content, that makes difficult its evolution.  Whatever the case may be, there is a certainty that throughout this stage, continuous supervision is needed, but with great doses of flexibility and confidence.

    • Type of learning:

    During this phase, the team works as a group, each one playing the role assigned to them, executing their functions.  The contact with the instructor-coordinators is fluid but not direct.  The work is developed around the environment of the radio, and each member starts to become more autonomous.  Now, in the case that the group or any of its members demands it, the instructor can be part of the processes with the level of involvement as needed.  In the same way, the instructor reserves her right to intervene at any moment if the members or the processes are not following the guidelines established.

    Now, if in the process of preparation of the program the instructor maintains a more collaborative than cooperative attitude, letting the members of the group work and reach a consensus for the creation of a good radio product, the work that the instructor performs during the presentation of the results is clearly cooperative.  The supervision of the final product allows the instructor to glimpse, a posteriori, how the processes that each member of the team had developed are.  The instructor’s structured and functional criticism, together with the criticisms from the own group, will serve as a guide for the preparation of the next pilot program, or in its case, the first broadcast-ready program, which is something that is not discovered until the program is recorded.

    With what has been presented, we could affirm that in this stage, as in the last stage, both types of learning co-habit, although with the known intention by iradio’s coordinators that collaborative learning should be the type of learning that the students should being to internalize in order to take on the next phase.

    3.1.3. Phase 3. Evolution of the radio product

    • Duration:

    This is the longest phase, as it usually lasts from the end of November, for being the last day for the launching of a new product in the dayparting, until June, the month in which iradioUCAM ends its broadcast, as it is also the date that marks the end of the academic year.

    • Objectives to be reached:

    The most important objective during this stage is that the group become independent from the instructor, meaning that their work is handled from the perspective of collaborative learning.

    • Processes:

    Once the group has broadcasted at least three radio programs, the real period of independent work by the group starts in relation to the iradio coordinators.

    From this point on, the great variation that is produced as compared to the previous stage is that the instructor is no longer directly present in any of the processes, leaving the recording of the program, the one process she was involved in. The group works independently and is alone in the recording sessions.  In this way, the orientation that was given previous to and during the recording disappear, as well as the criticism that were given afterwards.

    The instructor will give her criticism once the product has been broadcasted, which implies an important vote of confidence on the potential of the program, of the team overall and the people that comprise it, from a more individual perspective.

    • Type of learning:

    It is evident that the type of work that is proposed in this stage is clearly collaborative.  Understanding that the responsibility of learning is transferred from the professor to the student “helps the students to become more independent, to express well and mature socially and intellectually” (Bruffee, 1995 in Barkely, 2007: 35).  In this phase, there is a strong bet for this formula of work despite being conscious of the non-satisfactory results that in some occasions can be found.  The truth is, the results are not always what is expected when the group stops having a leader to resort to systematically.

    In some occasions errors are produced, either of content, form, expression or simply of management of human resources.  Motivation and its reflection in self-esteem, leadership together with degree of confidence, integration, exclusion or a feeling of belonging are other factors that should be taken into account when excellence is sought in a group.  The moment then to work as equals begins, as the students, being judges and part of the group, fight for the reaching of common goals, sharing powers and responsibilities.  For this, they work their ideas in search of a shared context in which motivation and the feeling of belonging should align horizontally and proportionally to each of the group’s members.

    3.1.4. Phase 4. Evaluation of the season through the analysis of the programs and its members through a double perspective

    • Duration:

    This phase takes place in the month of July, once the iradio season has finished, and all the necessary data for an in-depth analysis of the results obtained have been compiled.

    • Objectives to be reached:

    The main objective of this stage is the evaluation of all the work performed throughout the entire season, analyzing the dayparting as well as each member of the staff, to set the basis on which Phase 1 from the next season will rest on.

    • Processes:

    When assessing the trajectory of each of the programs taking into account different criteria such as the number of podcasts broadcasted, the subjects developed, the degree of content creation, as well as the acceptance of the products –having in mind the number of playbacks as well as its degree of visibility in social networks-.  Only by assessing each one of these variables can an assessment be made that could serve for deciding on the continuity of the program the following season.

    Just as the programs are analyzed, so are the members of the group.  These are subjected to a detailed analysis in which the most important matter is to measure the degree of development and learning reached by each one of them in their role assigned, and therefore, through the functions that they have performed in it.

    Starting with this, decisions are made on the programs, teams and people.  As for the programs, different decisions can be made such as elimination, re-structuring or maintenance.  As for the people, the decisions have to be transferred directly to the protagonists in order to jointly evaluate the situations, and decide in a consensual manner on their future.

    • Type of learning:

    As can be seen by what is presented, this stage is ingrained with cooperative-type work.  It is the instructor, as a coordinator, the one who assumes the leading role in all the processes due to her role as expert in the subject matter.  From this, she evaluates everything that has occurred in the learning processes used and the results reached by each one of the students.
    The final assessment will serve as the starting point not only for the radio in general at the start of a new season, but for each of the people that have worked in it in search of specialized knowledge in the radio medium.

    4. Discussion and conclusions

    After five years since the launching of iradioUCAM, we in a position to ensure that the work model that has been perfecting throughout its seven seasons has consolidated to become an ideal formula for the reaching of its starting objectives with respect to the students of Communication: the acquisition of competencies in the area of radio communication, as well as an initial approach to its real-world work environment.

    The work formulas employed under the parameters of cooperative and collaborative learning have allowed for the construction of a four-phase learning process which was adapted to the previously-presented objectives, with these objectives being always thought of as the basis for the training of students by our radio.

    Creating radio from a cooperative and collaborative perspective implicitly has a multitasking component where different process are involved, even interacting in order to grant the radio with another of its defining features: its initial approach to a professional communication medium.  Through it, the university radio has entrenched itself under the auspices of the Faculty of Communication as an professional experimental space where learning is based on the involvement of the student body in the entire productive process, from the hatching of a project until it becomes tangible, to its final development.

    This type of managing of the team work finds its equal in the workings of a professional radio, where today the same person should be able to intervene and manage each step of the vital processes of a product.

    Being aware that the involvement by the student varies depending on the stage of the process and the phase where it is found, as explained in this article, the roles to be played, and therefore the knowledge to be acquired by each member of the radio could be as broad as each of them wants.  Therefore, the possibility of acquiring extensive training is made available.

    With respect to the learning models employed, cooperative and collaborative, both are necessary and complementary in the everyday processes of a university radio starting from its launch, but their choosing in each work phase is fundamental in order to obtain important results related to the student’s competencies.

    Cooperative learning is important, overall, for the first or last phase of any type of work, where the role of the instructor is more predominant.  But if this model is used only in a university radio as well as in any other educational setting, under our point of view, the synergies that are established in the large group, the feedback from the student to the professor and the enriching debate that could come about from the discussion on specific subjects, among other things, are wasted.  Its use is valid for structuring and consolidating the base of knowledge of each member until he or she reaches the minimum necessary in order to manage within the other learning model (collaborative), with the development of the product taking a longer time and be more work.

    This is where the student has the opportunity to experiment with new ways to learn and generate knowledge.  The work among equals leads to him or her to set his or her own objectives, being conscious of its processes in order to reach them, exerting continuous self-criticism.

    In any case, an indispensable element for any launching of a university radio is the hope and motivation of the project’s managers, as its changing structure as well as having to continuously re-direct the difficulties that should be confronted, make it so that the day-to-day is difficult during its first phase, and by extent, its long-term permanence in time.

    Once this research is concluded, we believe that the management of teams and radio products model employed in iradioUCAM, through cooperative and collaborative learning, could serve as guides for other university radios, and could even be extrapolated to other educational settings that are based on the acquisition of competencies.

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    How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

    IM García-González, C Robles-Andreu, B Correyero-Ruiz (2016): “Management of work teams and radio products in university radios”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 71, pp. 696 to 714.
    DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2016-1116en

    Article received on 23 December 2015. Accepted on 4 July.
    Published on 20 July 2016.