Monday, April 23, 2012

Using Online Collaborative Tools

Early in the semester my group in Classroom Computer Applications had the assignment of creating a survey to gather data. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, come to find out maybe not. Dr. Z had a challenge in store for us. We weren't allowed to speak to each other in person. Everything had to be done thorough online collaboration. How in the heck can we get this whole thing done without being able to, you know, talk to each other?! Come to find out it wasn't as hard as it seemed. In fact, it was pretty simple.

I don't think people realize how much they use the internet to collaborate. As a student at UNI, I use eLearning  (a form of Blackboard learning) as a form of collaboration with majority of my professors. This is where they post my grades, and give me feedback. I also use Twitter and Facebook to get feedback from my friends and family. I'm simply saying that online collaboration is something that majority of Americans have experienced somehow. After realizing how often I already collaborate online this assignment didn't seem so difficult after all.

My group chose to use Google Docs as our main form of communication. It took some getting used to at first while sitting next to each other "chatting" on a Google Doc. I'll admit it felt a little strange, but the more we did it the less weird it felt. It just began to feel normal. It's something that I already did on a daily basis, just not in a classroom setting, or using Google Doc. One critique I had from our method was the use of Google Docs. While I think Google Docs is a fantastic tool, it just didn't work for me for this particular use. It's not really meant for instant messaging. Instead, it's use it better served when each member can edit at different times. I'm the kind of person who likes to have things in order......... very neatly. So, you can imagine how the circus on our Google Doc made me feel. Everyone a different color, a different font, a different size. AHHH! Disaster!!! In the end though, it all worked out and we produced a pretty great project.

Some other ideas for online collaboration could be AIM, Facebook Chat, Skype, ooVoo, or Google Chat. For conversations I would just suggest something that is more friendly to instant messaging. Google Docs is best used for collaborative work on a script, or paper!

Anyways, I hope I helped all my readers realize that online collaboration really isn't all that scary, and it's a pretty useful tool. Besides, odds are you're already doing it one way or another!

As I was writing this blog post, I wondered what kinds of things I could learn about online collaboration. So, since Google and YouTube can pretty much teach me anything I need to know I decided to type 'online collaboration' into YouTube. This is one of the first videos that came up. It's amazing what online collaboration can do! Check it out!

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