What are Collaborative Environments?

Collaborative environments are online spaces — often cloud-based — where the focus is making it easy to collaborate and working in groups, no matter where the participants may be. As the typical educator’s network of contacts has grown to include colleagues who might live and work across the country, or indeed anywhere on the globe, it has become common for people who are not physically located near each other to collaborate on projects. In classrooms as well, joint projects with students at other schools or in other countries are more and more commonplace as strategies to expose learners to a variety of perspectives.

Wikis, which allow many authors to add content to a web site, were one of the first technologies in this category, and it is increasingly rare to find a collaboration that does not use a wiki in one form or another. The largest example is Wikipedia, which through the efforts of thousands of contributors, has become the world’s de facto encyclopedia. One of the largest examples of an online environment built expressly to enable collaboration is Google Apps, which includes a set of commonly used productivity tools, but configured in a way to make it easy to work in teams.

The essential attribute of the technologies in this set is that they make it easy for people to share interests and ideas, work on joint projects, and easily monitor collective progress. All of these are needs common to student work, research, collaborative teaching, writing and authoring, development of grant proposals, and more. The bar for widespread participation is very low, since the software to support virtual collaboration is low cost or free, and available via a web browser.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • - jludden jludden Aug 31, 2011Professional development and rich, collaborative research projects have been most impacted by this technology. Now, subject matter experts can better manage internal expectations and institutional knowledge. Public facing opportunity are obviously there, but it seems museum really benefit from the collaborative content creation that happens with colleagues.
  • Another perspective here.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • Another perspective here.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • - jludden jludden Aug 31, 2011The creation of content is changing. How museum experts share and present their work is much different now that we can collaborate in one space. Authorship is better shared. Collaborative environments promote the actual content/message. Moreover, these technologies also promote “rough thinking” and prototyping rather than a polished end result.
  • Another perspective here.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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