I just skimmed the May 2009 District Administration article “A Call for Collaboration” and was reminded of a group project I recently completed with some grad students from UW Stout. For the first time, in my online learning career, I have made an interpersonal connection to fellow students! Typically, in a complete asynchronous environment this does not happen. In a world of text, it is very hard to identify with people. For my own personal learning journey, the best experiences come from a blend of synchronous and asynchronous tools. With the rise of Web 2.0 tools… making that personal connection has become increasingly easier to accomplish!
For the past two weeks I have been privileged to work with two individuals, whom I have never met, on a collaborative project to build an assessment toolbox using Googledocs. We were each required to research an assessment tool and then combine the writings into one document – or toolbox. Even though I did learn about Elluminate Live! – To me the real learning occurred by participating in this activity.
With individual projects, you are in charge of everything. What does it look like? What will the content have? What will the timelines be? With the group project everyone has their own ideas and perspectives. What was even more interesting was taking the collaboration project online. F2F sessions are easy. By the end of the meeting, you can usually agree to some of the basic underlying questions. However, in an online environment, where people don’t have the same schedules, little things can be somewhat difficult to agree to. Not because of a clash of opinions, but because of time it takes to respond to the email or discussion thread. It seemed that we were never really online at the same time. Even though I believe that this may be due to some limitations in D2L, it does represent a challenge to a collaborative online project.
I have been very satisfied with our team’s efforts. I have never participated in a Googledoc collaboration quite so large. (meaning the number of pages – linked together like a website ) Previous use was more of a brainstorm activity on 1 page, usually after a f2f meeting. I am pretty impressed with the tool and would like to encourage teachers and students to use it in collaborative projects.
Looking back, I wish we would have time to play with the other tools – presentation, spreadsheet, and forms. I am sure Melissa and Dora would agree that there was a incredible amount of time spent on this project and it is nice to have it behind us. One other thing I wish we could have dabbled in was the templates. There are some VERY professional and PRETTY templates that might have worked great as well. What matters most for me is I learned a ton! I see Google Docs as a huge benefit in collaborative work for online students.