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eToolbox: Mapping Technologies to Learning - Collaboration

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This form of learning requires students to collaborate with each other online to solve a problem, develop a product or produce some shared output. Collaboration requires some shared space where all students have common access. In this section we look at two such technologies - Wikis and Virtual Classrooms. Collaboration methods complement discussion methods which also bring students together. Collaboration goes one step further than discussion however, in that students work together to develop an output.




Wikis are one of the most popular technologies for online collaboration. The famous success of Wikipedia in developing on online encyclopedia is the most graphic demonstration of how online collaboration of many people can solve problems much more cheaply and quickly that the solution of problems by individuals or even individual organisations. The less well known solutions of SETI@Home which brings people (and their computing resources) together to locate extra-terrestrial life, and Luis van Ahn's ESP Game which brings people together in a game environment to tag images, demonstrate how large numbers of people, collaborating effectively, can make significant contributions to knowledge.


The virtual classroom provides a real-time alternative to face-to-face meetings. The technology underlying virtual classrooms has been popular in business for some time, cutting travel costs for business people who can meet and collaborate online. By meeting in a virtual classroom, student have an opportunity to discuss, develop and share material. Unlike a Wiki, the output is not automatically part of the environment, but can be taken offline by the participants. Students can meet to draw on a shared whiteboard, co-write an essay, or co-design using CAD and Application Sharing. 


In the sections linked to below, we have collected together resources which you, as an educator, can use to decide which technologies you would like to use for online collaboration to support your students' learning. We also encourage you to contribute your view using the comment box on each page.



If you wish to add a comment suggesting additional content, please do so using the comment box below.


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