Working Together... When Apart – Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World
Dr. Robert Leneway, Educational Technology Program Coordinator, Western Michigan University
Web 2.0 now offers previously undreamed of potential for virtual projects and teams. But, what are some principles for getting started and ensuring success when working together but apart?
Leneway began by introducing the book Wikinomics: how mass collaboration changes everything by Tapscott and Williams. He talked about the need for Microsoft to open up their software programs – used his son who works for MS as an example of how the thinking there has changed. He uses Adobe Connect to connect with his face to face students when he is traveling around the country.
Virtual groups – why do some succeed where others do not? Same for professional organizations – can they survive in the age of web 2.0?
Presented some traits and practices of successful virtual teams, but first, virtual groups that don't succeed don't develop desired chemistry due to their physical separation, lack of familiarity and time zones. They need social networking tools and the right mix of members, and they must:
keep it interesting
find workable technologies to support your efforts
The biggest challenge is the inability to easily learn about one another and what each person is good at doing. Successful groups:
allow members to learn quickly about each other,
have a few team members who already know each other
idenyify “boundary spanners” with contacts and connection outside of the group
It's also a good idea to create an online site where a team can collaborate, exchange ideas and inspire each other. Assign only tasks that are challenging and interesting, meaningful tasks. Bring in outsiders to stir the pot and add a different perspective.
Why is there failure in virtual teams? He didn't answer, but added that virtual teams buzz when ignited by a question or a task so compelling and exciting that people from across the organization are drawn toward it.
Web 2.0 Tools
bubbl.us – concept mapping
Adobe Buzzword – docs supposedly better than Google Docs
Live Skyspace – new from Microsoft
Office Live, Workspace Live
Adobe Acrobat 8.0
Drupal for content management
IHMC Cmap tools http://cmap.ihmc.us/
Ning – create your own social network
Demoed Adobe Connect Enterprise Server. Used to be Macromedia Breeze. Didn't know about pricing, but it's expensive.