Tuesday, April 19, 2011

37. About Collaboration

Finding Common Ground in Dispersed Collaboration
Catherine Durnell Cramton
Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 356-367, 2002

This anecdotal article seems to be relevant for the collaboration environment that is required in online learning spaces, especially on the faculty and staff sides. Even though not directly concerned with online learning delivery, the article mentions a few considerations that are worth keeping in mind.

  1. Technology can ease the communication flow amongst people. Especially staff working for the same institution.  This fundamental and often forgotten ability to communicate via technology-laden tools has increased the frequency of communication but that does not seem to directly correlate with people being more clear with one another or the dispersion of common knowledge being improved.
  2. Failure to communicate and remember contextual information - this is a pitfall of using of email messages and threads. People tend to skip reading the entire message or take messages out of context and this creates confusion. Very important to this thought is the idea that people collaborating on projects from dispersed environments will often lose sight of this important element of the communication.
  3. Uneven distribution of information - dispersed teams will inevitably end up having different access and understanding of common knowledge. This issue can be addressed with common working and sharing spaces (cloud technologies seem to have addressed this issue).
  4. Differences in identifying salient information in same messages can cause problems.
  5. Differences in response speed and use of time - these elements directly deal with cultural competency concerns and can be heightened by the communication which is only mediated via technology tools.

Guidelines for practice are also provided by the article, and could prove beneficial as a starting discussion point.

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