Collaborating at a Distance

While finishing my Master’s degree at the University of New Mexico I was exposed to a plethora of social media tools that I lost track of the number of programs I used. I didn’t mind it I was quite opposite than the other students. I really loved learning the programs and applying them to some kind of learning techniques with my groups. We were using blogs, wikis, podcasts, video, interactive presentation apps. and several learning management systems. Of course researching Piaget, Dewey, Pavlov, Zygotsky and Gagne wasn’t an easy task either. Then came the task of merging all these documents together with teammates and collaborating at a distance to complete a group project.

Well, as the semester’s rolled on we learned that email and cell phones only worked for certain individuals. The trick was to share documents and ideas while being in separate towns or even separate areas of town. The daunting task became to agree on scheduling because we all kept different schedules and timeframes. As you might guess this became a constraint on our lives and made completing projects burdensome. Just as any project that you might work on at work or at school the dynamics of a team still exist but some of the job roles seem to disappear. The trick was to engage each other into becoming more self[directed in accomplishing our goals.

What I want to share is that even now that I am supporting a project at a distance the selection of the program that I want to use for that collaboration is still hard. Just like state institutions of higher education smaller for-profit institutions face the same dilemma. The directors and instructors of these institutions lack the training to incorporate technology tools in their classrooms. Yet, I have at my disposal several collaborative tools of which a couple are already available to the institution but the end users lack the training to use them. SharePoint 2007  and elluminate are two very strong collaborative programs that will allow for doc sharing and live conferencing. Teams can tackle the job of document management tasks in revising and updating learning resource material.   MicroSoft Groove 2007  is another new program that has the potential to allow teams to have that dialogue at a distance.

Three well designed programs at our disposal and we have to wait to have the user trained before we move on. I look forward to the coming months to find out how well my proposal to the director is accepted. I don’t believe I will be proposing we spend more money on a new program since we have a couple robust applications.Why buy the software applications if you’re not going to use it? Why buy the programs without first knowing what you’re doing with them? All relevant questions that should be looked at before making any more purchases and a good place to start as we move forward.