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Published April 14, 2013 | Multidisciplinary

Collaborating Isn’t A Given Even With Digital Natives

How many of your students still use USB keys to share a document? Have you ever asked yourself why? Have you ever felt that a good number of your students confuse collaboration with division of labour?

Participants in a recent lab called Collaborer avec les technologies (Collaborate Using Technology) held conjointly between VTÉ (Vitrine technologie-éducation) and the CÉDIT (Centre de développement et d’étude sur l’innovation technopédagogique) were called upon to examine these and other questions related to this theme.

A Context-Specific Strategy

Many teachers observe a quite natural use of technology when students are asked to work in teams of four to six. This can result in a number of technological challenges including the following:

  • In an active learning classroom, students are often called upon to gather around the computer that they are using to take notes. When asked to continue their work outside of the class, in either a face-to-face or a distance learning context, their notes have been saved locally on only one computer.
  • When students use their own computers in a traditional classroom, it is likely that they will move their desks to form a compact group to work in proximity. As the class ends, they will divvy up the work to be done and share the information they have generated using a USB key. Here as well, it is difficult to continue collaborating once the class has ended.

New Tools to Meet New Challenges

Beyond online storage and sharing document services ( DropBox, etc.), there are many solutions allowing several users to simultaneously work on a document ( GoogleDrive, Box, TitanPad, etc.). Many of these are free. Why not use them?

Following an invitation to participate in our first anglophone living lab, Vitrine technologie-éducation (VTÉ) is tracking emerging technology trends for pedagogical use all over the world in order to design next season’s program. So far, a typical VTÉ Lab experience is composed of one to four online sessions of an hour and a half. Participants, ranging from novice to expert, freely explore, experiment and evaluate innovative ideas and scenarios, using examples that allow for both observation and creation.

Among the hot topics currently being considered are Serious Games, Collaborating with Technology in an Active Learning Context, Integrating Social Media into the Classroom and Cloud Computing. Which do you prefer? Would you like to add any others in order to help you to enrich your practice? We would like to hear from you!

For example during the recent French “Collaborer avec les technologies” VTÉ Lab, participants discussed the pedagogy of collaboration. Then, they compared the writing and sharing document context of some services in the cloud. Following that, they also explored how to share concept maps with CMAP Tools software in collaborative mode even though it’s not cloud computing but free software. Finally, they concluded the session in determining the best remote 2.0 collaboration practices.

Cloud Computing – A Breakthrough in Technology or Security

Even if the eventual consequences of the academic use of cloud computing are not always known, this new avenue of information and communication technology leaves few users indifferent, bringing exciting possibilities along with daunting challenges to the fore.

There is much to discuss! What are your feelings about cloud computing? What contexts does it suggest to support which pedagogical approaches?

Express your opinion!

About the Author

Christophe Reverd After an initial career as an entrepreneur, then as an IT consultant, he joined the team at Vitrine technologie-éducation as an ICT Education Advisor. Christophe holds a Master’s degree in IT Governance and completed a “microprogramme” in Pedagogy of Higher Education at the Université de Sherbrooke, where he teaches as a lecturer to IT professionals and graduate students in the Administration and Science Faculties. He is also involved as a board member of the not-for-profit Robotique Zone01 and created the Club Framboise, which brings users of the Raspberry Pi computer from Montreal and surrounding regions together.

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