What are Collaborative Environments?

Collaborative environments are online spaces — often cloud-based — where the focus is making it easy to collaborate and work in groups, no matter where the participants may be. As the typical educator’s network of contacts has grown to include colleagues who might live and work across the country, or indeed anywhere on the globe, it has become common for people who are not physically located near each other to collaborate on projects. In classrooms as well, joint projects with students at other schools or in other countries are more and more commonplace as strategies to expose learners to a variety of perspectives. The essential attribute of the technologies in this set is that they make it easy for people to share interests and ideas and easily monitor collective progress. These tools are compelling and widely adopted because they are not only easy to use, but they are also either very low cost or free, and easily available via a web browser.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Jul 21, 2011

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the education sector you know best?

  • I think we'll touch on globalisation and internationalisation more than once in these wikis. And here we go again - in an international perspective collaborative environments are of huge importance. But of course, the concept is important for, say, on campus studying. The important thing is to have CE intergrated in the existing learning management systems and - not least - to have an (infra)structure that supports the learing acitivites. Without this many students will be left behind in the collaborative formats of learning. - ole ole Oct 9, 2014
  • CEs can exist outside of LMSs - for example, the Google suite of tools, all of which make collaboration easy and which can be used in conjunction with LMSs. Effective online discussions through LMSs can also be collaborative - and this is a pedagogical facilitation task for lecturers to engender. See doctoral thesis by Dianne Forbes (2012)http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7108- n.wright n.wright Oct 15, 2014
  • Google's suite is a great example. Additionally these "environments" like the tools that Google are providing are also redefining the paradigm of the learning management system. I began exploring this a few years ago before Google+ was fully matured and already saw the light. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7wXTH1dQmblQUotN3pSaExpbkE/view?usp=sharing - brian.yuhnke brian.yuhnke Oct 17, 2014
  • An optimal CE should function successfully in person and online. Modern active learning classrooms thrive on spatial design and technology. Key dedicated technology to continue classroom collaboration online is in it's infancy. While tools like Google Apps provide the infrastructure, how is motivation and excitement transitioned and continued? - brian.yuhnke brian.yuhnke Oct 17, 2014
  • Online tools, such as Google Apps can eliminate some of the barriers that students face when working in groups, especially when students are not located close to each other. While doing my BEd in Adult Education, our group members came from all over Ontario. We regularly collaborated using the online tools at the time. Online collaboration can also be used in the classroom. I had my students create a "study note" for the midterm collaboratively by adding to a google doc. Not only did they love the experience, they were thrilled watching as the note was populated by everyone in the class at the same time. - lkoster lkoster Oct 20, 2014 #AgreeAgreeAgree Google Docs has made collaboration a norm in higher ed. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 28, 2014
  • Collaborative environments can also be used to complement physical environments. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 23, 2014 Agree! They even should be integrated into one concept (see the concept of smart learning commons).- rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Oct 27, 2014
  • Collaborative environments will continue to grow in significance for online learning in higher education, in particular for their pedagogical affordances of connected learning. - Jolie Jolie Oct 23, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Collaboration is one of those 'soft' skills that employers desire--and say they can't find in recent graduates. http://business.time.com/2013/11/10/the-real-reason-new-college-grads-cant-get-hired/ In the UK, serious attention is being paid to this matter: http://blog.universitiesuk.ac.uk/2014/09/22/university_employer_collaboration/.
    In the familiar model, each student communicates directly with the instructor through papers and tests. But group work allows students to learn from their peers, as well as developing skills they need in the workplace. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 14, 2014
  • CEs work too for researchers across countries, where closed communities can be created for research collaborations. The bottom line is having fast, reliable, robust broadband/wifi and unfettered access to the same tools. - n.wright n.wright Oct 15, 2014- e.degroot e.degroot Oct 20, 2014
  • I think that we are often thinking of a false dichotomy between virtual and physical environments to the detriment of both. Each one of these environments has utility for different kinds of interactions. Platforms such as Google Hangouts blur the line between synchronous and asynchronous interactions. We have augmented our collaborative capabilities and need to develop individual and organizational understandings of the implications this has for classes, meetings, college events, etc., etc. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 23, 2014 - helga helga Oct 24, 2014 - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014
  • Every social medium and web page that accepts comments is potentially a space for collaboration. At that point, the reasons for locking collaboration inside the LMS become increasing less compelling. If we want our students to be productive and engaged citizens, engagement outside the academy walls will be important in motivating them, and students could again become a transformative force in society at large. (Do we need to add that collaboration is both professionally preparatory and utopian?) - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 28, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • The potential impact of CEs is already here- books are written using this affordance (see Education Communities portal as an example: http://www.educationcommunities.org/welcome.do) - n.wright n.wright Oct 15, 2014 Yes, agree but it is not ubiquitous and impact could be much bigger and should be because of the importance of skills to work together with people in heterogeneous groups/from different cultures. - e.degroot e.degroot Oct 20, 2014
  • We need to be teaching our students (and our faculty and staff) how to interact across a broad range of platforms. The day of the simple, linear, closed office memo is long gone. Choice brings with it its own challenges, however. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 23, 2014 In addition, teaching how to interact across cultures and sensitive topics. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 25, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.