Last Wednesday I did a session on collaboration in the cloud.
Here is a short presentation with some of the tools people can use to collaborate online.
Just a couple of notes:
The tools are important. They can help bridge communication. They can support the creation of collective and personal environments. For me, however, what seems even more important is to actually know what we really want to do and achieve before we actually start thinking of the tool itself.
I often hear people say they want to set up a wiki for their project, or have created a blog for their class, but no one really showed interest, or after the first week the enthusiasm started to fade away.
Well, that is what might happen when we don’t analyse our needs and define our goals. This is also often the result we get when we don’t give people a purpose, a reason to join and remain in that space.
Cloud computing is accessible to all of us now. Offering people a blog, a wiki or any other tool we happen to be keen on is not much. Creating new opportunities for people to connect, collaborate and create knowledge, as a result of a joint effort, however, can be quite something. So, for me the most important question we need to ask ourselves is: how do we show the added value of using these web technologies when we invite people to join and use such and such service or tool? That will probably require a step back in the process of integrating technology in one’s practice: that of considering what it is you want people to achieve, and how… that might then help us design the approach, choose the tools and engage with people more easily.
Yes, because that is also something we need to take into account. Today we talk a lot about the ‘emancipated, independent learner’. That’s all fine and dandy, but independent does not mean being left alone. And one of the key aspects of being online is really the connection amongst people. So if we want to enhance our practice and our students’ learning experience, we too need to be there for that to happen. The technology on its own is of very little use!
That is why, this time around, I decided to offer two discussion sessions instead of jumping right into how-to sessions about a single tool. My idea was to discuss the possibilities, offer examples and create a space for people to share experiences and ask questions. Now, I want to build on that and offer how-to sessions based on what you think would be most useful for you and your academic activities, in this point in time.
From what I could gather blogs are right at the top of the list. Online presentations (including audio) also seem to have been popular.
Which other how-to sessions would you like to attend? Is there anything in particular you would like to start integrating in your practice?
I will be working on the how-to sessions based on people’s needs and interests, so do submit your ideas!
I will be offering them sometime after Easter.