George Siemens identified three elements of distance education “that are creating more effective learning experiences and giving distance education an identity of its own distinct from F2F courses.” They are global diversity, communication, and collaborative interaction. I agree all are vital to the success of a distance learning class. I would also add the element of establishing a sense of community, something that challenges even the face-to-face educator. Collaborative interaction is at the heart of building a community in a course.
In the blog “How the Workplace Can Improve Collaboration,” Hughes Marino Inc. explores the variety of ways collaborative interaction can occur in the work place. The focus of the information presented is establishing those collaborative space as necessary for the future of collective work. “With cloud computing one of the established trends of the decade and the launch of technologies like Google Wave and Intel’s Dynamic Composable Computing, worker data is becoming more easily shared, enabling new levels of synchronous collaboration for even distributed teams.” The technologies available are helping foster more effective collaboration in the workplace.
Many of the technologies available are allowing collaborative interaction to flourish. Through the use of wikis products can be created through team efforts. Shared documents, like Google Docs, do much the same; however, wikis allow users to collect multiple varieties of information in a single web page. Collaboration isn’t just limited to common spaces. Blogs can also foster collaborative interaction. Users of blogs permit ideas to be shared and feedback to be given through discussions. Another key tool that has helped develop collaborative interactions is social networking. This platform for collaboration allows for the number of people collectively developing ideas to be of a greater number. English Companion is a strong example of how teachers collaborate and grow as a group.
The rise in collaboration in the workplace is a direct result of the innovative tools available on line. However, blogger Alan Lew questions the accuracy of presented statistics regarding the use of social media among educators in his May 1, 2011, post. I believe he is correct we should question the research presented especially if it is unable to be supported by our own research. Knowing the importance of providing resources, it is difficult to validate the YouTube videos or multimedia presentations that do not reference sources. As writers we need to be certain to provide those references to help build our own credibility. None the less, Lew believes that the use of the tools I have mentioned above are on the rise—so do I.
We are moving to a much more collaborative world and the educational tools we use are fostering that shift.
Hughes Marino Inc. (2011, September 21). Steelcase: How the workplace can improve collaboration. Retrieved September 28, 2011, from Hughes Marino: http://www.hughesmarino.com/resources/steelcase-how-the-workplace-can-improve-collaboration/
Kanuka, H. (2010). Understanding e-Learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson, The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 91-118). Edmonton: AU Press.
Lew, A. (2011, May 1). Really? That Many of My Colleagues are using Social Media in their Teaching? Retrieved September 28, 2011, from Web 2.0 Teaching Tools: http://web20teach.blogspot.com/2011/05/really-that-many-of-my-colleagues-are.html
Oblinger, D. G., Barone, C. A., & Hawkins, B. L. (2001). Distributed education and its challenges: An overview. American Council on Education and Educause.
Parker, N. (2010). The quality dilemma in online education revisited. In T. Anderson, The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 305-332). Edmonton: AU Press.
Siemens, G. (2008). The future of distance education. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc.
Simonson, M. (2008). Distance Education: Higher Education, K12, and the Corporate World. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc.