What are Collaborative Environments?

Collaborative environments are online spaces — often cloud-based — where the focus is on 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 nonetheless collaborate on projects. Joint classroom-based projects with students at other schools or in other countries are more and more common strategies used 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, to easily monitor their collective progress, and to see how ideas have evolved throughout the process. 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 often accessible with a simple web browser.

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

  • There is a convergence of mobile technology, crowd sourcing, AR, cloud computing and other media types which = collaborative environments. Coursework and collaborative workspace interface. CISCO produced a white paper as of 11/15/12 titled---The New Collaborative Workspace Environment: White Paper. http://campustechnology.com/whitepapers/2012/cisco_12a/collaboration/the-new-collaborative-workspace/asset.aspx?tc=assetpg&returnkey=aNI4DW9Uk0WbN0RQkvHu2tu4FGdARY5M - michael.lambert michael.lambert Nov 24, 2012 I see also a connection to virtual research environments. - rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Nov 30, 2012
  • Collaborative Environments have been around for years but only now becoming mainstream and widely accessible for the classroom - convergence of applications in a single instance allowing twitter for example, video, presence, images- instagram, whiteboarding etc is a new enhancement of the tool potentially helping a rich development of digital transliteracy- DaveP DaveP Dec 1, 2012
  • Absolutely (to the comments above). I also see institutions moving towards creating collaborative environments. These could be for researchers, students, or as an online equivalent to the physical campus for distance students. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Dec 2, 2012

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

  • I really don't get this item. "Collaborative environments" have been around for decades and are not an emerging technology, especially in the very broad way they are described here. The above description could equally apply to "ancient" things like Usenet, or MOOs and MUDs, and also to virtual worlds, chat rooms, teleconferencing, and for that matter email listservs. What new technology/technologies are we specifically talking about here? And can they be described with more precision, to distinguish them from many similar technologies? - richard.holeton richard.holeton Nov 30, 2012
  • I agree with Richard--not sure what the element is that makes them substantively new. There are new capabilities, but that doesn't change the underlying premise. - laura.winer laura.winer Dec 1, 2012Laura
  • After reading the criteria for adding new topics, I'd say this description sounds like a "concept" rather than a "real technology."- richard.holeton richard.holeton Dec 1, 2012
  • Adding support to what has already been written here: when I returned to school in 2007 to earn a second master's degree through an online program, the use of collaborative online spaces was an essential tool--well-integrated into what we did--and this turned to be true of both universities I attended in the extended effort to complete that degree. Collaborative online spaces, furthermore, are fairly common in the workplace learning and performance (staff training) environments in which I work, so I think this is a horizon that is behind rather than ahead of us unless there is a massive change in the platforms we're using for our collaborations.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • I think I could agree with these comments. I do think that the environments are much richer today than they could be with Usenet, MOOS, etc. And I think that they're more distributed and personalized. But much of what is newer or interesting could be captured in some of the other categories (such as personal learning environments). - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Dec 2, 2012
  • The 'studio model' is moving on to the playing field. This models allows students to work on their own projects and present what they are working on 2-4 times in a semester. The challenge is that not all students will have a collaborative skill set. Many students know how to share and cooperate, but not collaborate (Book title: Here Comes Everybody). The challenge will be how to help students master collaborative skills before taking these type of courses. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Dec 3, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research, or creative inquiry?

  • Collaboration with experts, a cross border, cross sector, cross institutional approach will be required but open learning just as in open source could allow for real time, real instance of collaborative working pushing the technology to do things it didnt realise it was invented for!- DaveP DaveP Dec 1, 2012
  • This collaborative environment (CE) requires a shift in the syllabus and instructional style. Courses are built mainly around a lecture-style approach and if we want this CE, the assessment and the requirements need to shift, too. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Dec 3, 2012
  • another response here

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