Thursday, May 22, 2003

Here's something I found @ EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION FOR GROUP PROJECTS: THE VALUE OF SYNCHRONICITY by Mercer and Davie. Presented @ TCC 2002.

Online computer conferences or discussion forums (asynchronous CMC) provide a learning environment that supports group collaboration very well. The dialogue of the course is always available so that learners can revisit their discussion, and reflect thoughtfully on their responses. They can then compose and edit messages as their time permits (Burge, 1994; Daugherty & Funke, 1998). However, the feelings of isolation, lack of immediate responses, difficulty making group decisions, and a sense of information overload leave many students quite frustrated (Benbunan-Fich & Hiltz, 1999; Hara & Kling, 1999; Wegerif, 1998). In response students, researchers and online teachers have recommended the inclusion of synchronous communication to asynchronous CMC courses (Bullen, 1998; Carr-Chellman, Dyer, & Breman, 2000; Higgins, 1992; Mason, 1998; Mitchell & Bacic, 2000).

I know that on-line group work without collaboration won't work. In fact in a reflective term paper I wrote a little over a month ago, I suggested that a lack of synchronous communication amongst the members of our project team really hurt us during one assignment.

Indeed many of the "frustrations" listed above were expressed by members of our group. From where I type, the "difficult making group decisions" rises to extreme without synchronous (i.e. chat or "real time") communication.

I'd also suggest that the true value of synchronous CMC (computer-mediated communication)-based education will become fully apparent as we move beyond ASCI or text-based interfaces. Drawings and objects and "virtual" environments to facilitate a community-driven dynamic knowledge base.

Back to Calgary from sunny San Diego. I did get that 20 degrees back, interest too! Sorry to report that I didn't get any pics on this trip.

I really enjoyed working with learners while conducting SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard training over the past two days. Interactive whiteboards are exciting tools for educators and students of technology. I have both "educators" and "students" attend my sessions. I get a charge out of participants' excitment regarding the educational application of the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard.

I remain keenly interested in leveraging our hardware and software to further development of a dynamic knowledge base related to these same products. A case of the medium truly being the message. As noted, a "sharing culture" within the community is needed for this model to work.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Made it back to Calgary. The temperature here is about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Ottawa when I left.

Head to San Diego in the morning -- hope to get my 20 degrees back with interest ;-) I'm down there to deliver training and check out the ASTD's annual conference. Stop by the SMART Technologies Inc. booth -- #1837 [I'll be at the conference for most of the day on Wednesday] to say hello if you're in the 'hood.

Had a great weekend in the Ottawa Valley. The party last night was a blast. Great to see "all hands on deck" and get the chance to visit with some I hadn't seen in a decade or more.

Managed to mix a little "work" into the trip as well, although meeting over wine with two colleagues I'd only interacted with on-line hardly qualifies as work ;-)

James Mercer and Lynn Holden are doing some great work in multimedia and virtual reality. I'm excited to have the opportunity to work with them and members of their community and am especially interested in working with them on synchronous delivery models. James' concept of the Thinking Fish is fascinating.

James was a colleague in my most recent course at OISE/UT. It was a blast working with him and his students at Arnprior District High School this semester and I look forward to working with him and colleagues into the future.

A post from Renfrew, ON. Here this weekend to attend a birthday party for my mother. It was good to visit with family and friends and we had a great time last night.

A picture of Barb and her brood