Collaborate Online: December 5 - 16, 2007

Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Janet Salmons -
Number of replies: 8

Some of you were online today for the webinar. If you were not, you can watch it here: http://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/event/description?instance_id=9143. I am posting a handout with some of the models in the presentation in the hope that we can discuss some of them here.

A premise for this work is that while sometimes people easily and naturally think together and collaborate, more often intentional policies and practices are needed to ensure success. With careful planning, participants can develop the trust and skills to achieve unique outcomes. In the case of instructional design-- which I know interests many of you-- what steps are important? What do we need to think about, what questions should we ask?

To kick off the discussion I'd like to pose a couple of questions. I am going to post some overall questions here, then start another discussion thread where we can talk about the Taxonomy specifically.

  1. What is your experience in inter-group versus intra-group collaboration? What did you learn? What would you suggest for start-up, what considerations would you make, for inter-or intra-group collaboration?
  2. In the collaborative projects/courses you've planned or experienced-- was the goal knowledge acquisition, transfer or creation? What are implications for each?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Janet

In reply to Janet Salmons

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Nalin Abeysekera -

I learned both inter as well as inter group discussions. I learned about the subject knowledge as well as presentation skills once it come to face to face discussions. As considerations of inter group as well as intra group i think we need to identify the external factors of the students...their background as well as skills, knowledge..etc. I participated one teachers training course at University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Where we had two classes. Once class group has performed by looking at their background, other one is different. Better if we can do a small survey on that first. And i think the topic which we are discussing is also important once we concern about the formation of group.

In reply to Janet Salmons

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Jeffrey Keefer -

"With careful planning, participants can develop the trust and skills to achieve unique outcomes."

Janet, are you coming from a framework where trust can be built, across the board with all participants, by planning alone?

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Janet Salmons -

Great questions Jeffrey! I will start with this one then respond to the others you have posted.

I would not go on the record saying that "planning alone" or any one tactic alone can build trust. What I am saying is that when assigning a team project that will be conducted online (at work or in a class) we should give some thought to the relationship-building, trust-building steps. Let me give some background here---

A first step is to look at the context for the collaborative process and the characteristics of the collaborative partners. What is the skill level of participants in team/group process or in online communication? What level of complexity is represented? In a book titled Mastering Virtual Teams, Duarte and Snyder lay out this set of factors for determining the level of complexity:

Team Complexity

1. Has members from more than one organization

2. Has members from more than one function

3. Has members who transition on and off the team

4. Is geographically dispersed over more than three contiguous time zones

5. Is geographically dispersed so that some team members are 8–12 hours apart

6. Has members from more than two national cultures

7. Has members whose native language is different from the majority of other team members

8. Has members who do not have equal access to electronic communication and collaboration technology

9. Has members who are not formally assigned to the team

Total number of categories checked:

Complexity Index:

1–2 = some complexity 3–5 = moderate complexity 6–8 = high complexity

(Duarte & Snyder, 2006 p. 9)

The more complexity, the more time is needed to establish relationships and communication protocols, etc.

In an article, "The Enemies of Trust," Galford and Drapeau say that people use the word "trust" to refer to three different kinds:

1) strategic trust-- the trust people have in the leaders of the organization to make the right decisions;
2) personal trust-- the trust people have in their own managers to treat employees fairly and consider their needs when making decisions; and
3) organizational trust-- trust in the organizational policies, processes and systems. (Galford & Drapeau, 2003) To translate into an academic setting we could say that 1) learners have strategic trust in the instructor/teacher to be fair about how assignments are made and graded, and trust that he/she will be available\responsive if there are problems; 2) learners have personal with peers who are their collaborative partners; and 3) learnes have organizational trust in the value of the course as part of a degree or program, including trust in fair policies to do with grades and assessment.

We might generally think that personal trust must come first and that personal trust is developed when we develop relationships with collaborative partners. In some cases time and other factors mean we need to move the collaboration forward, before these personal trust can meaningfully serve as the foundation. In Chris Huxham’s trust–building loop, she suggests two strategies that can occur when the collaboration must move forward before personal trust is established (Huxham, 2005):

1.) Build on foundation of strategic or organizational trust, reputations, and fair agreements—build expectations that partners will not act opportunistically. As instructors, we have the responsibility to build strategic trust by communicating fair and realistic expectations, creating assignments that are achievable by learners given skill levels etc., and being responsive. So while learners may not have yet established trust in peers they are collaborating with, they trust that the process is fair and the instructor is there to help if things don't work out.

2.) Begin with small project that encourages collaborative partners to take the risk and initiate collaboration. In my study, research participants discussed ways to begin with safe, fun, non-graded activities to build learners' confidence and trust. Another "small project" can be the work agreement/charter, which gives them a tangible statement of how they will proceed with the assignment/task they must accomplish collaboratively, and how they will be accountable to each other. (This is a foundational Dialogue task.)

Huxham suggests that trust-building must be seen as a cyclic process within which positive outcomes form the basis for deeper trust, enabling more significant levels of collaboration. From this view, organizational/classroom and instructional factors are influential even when collaboration occurs at an individual level.

So...to back to your question...while we can't "plan" to build personal trust, we can plan ways to support successful collaborative processes.

I'll respond to your other excellent questions in the other thread later today.

Janet

Duarte, D., & Snyder, N. (2006). Mastering virtual teams (Third ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass

Galford, R., & Drapeau, A. S. (2003). The enemies of trust. Harvard Business Review, Reprint #3035(February).

Huxham, C., & Hibbert, P. (2005). More or less than give and take: Manifested attitudes to inter-partner learning in collaboration: Advanced Institute of Management Research.

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In reply to Janet Salmons

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Jeffrey Keefer -
Great reply here, Janet. This helps me understand your model a bit better.
In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Mark Cruthers -

Hello Everyone,

I showed Janet a great new technology called Wiziq this past Friday that has a great White Board and excellent audio and video features.  Wiziq is a great online collaboration tool that is free for all.  It's the free part that really gets me jazzed.

WiZiQ offers the following features:
Works in Flash format and needs no downloads 2-way live audio/video delivery Whiteboard with Math tools Synchronous Content sharing such as PowerPoint (retains animations and transitions), PDF, Flash, MS Word, MS Excel files and videos Records all sessions to be played back in Flash format (needs no downloads) Share PowerPoint presentations asynchronously even with narrated audio in slides

Feedback from Nellie, English Teacher
 

Wiziq YouTube Presentations:
 
Because of many request for more Wiziq demos, we maxed out on the last one,
I set up four more demos to be on Mondays, 2:00PM Pacific up to Christmas break.
 
Schedule of upcoming Wiziq demos:
 
Dec 10, 2007
 
Dec 17, 2007

Sincerely,

Mark Cruthers

www.homeschool-teachers.com

In reply to Mark Cruthers

Collaborate Online - Synchronous tools

by Sylvia Currie -
Thanks for the invitation to try out WiZiQ, Mark. I'll pop these sessions in our SCoPE calendar as well. We're always keen to try out new ways to collaborate online, especially during a "collaborate online" seminar! 3 hours is a long demo! tongueout I'm assuming more than one session will run between 2:00 & 5:00 PST.

Elluminate.com is kindly hosting Janet's sessions this month, and we're grateful to have the opportunity to extend the dialogue through this seminar here in SCoPE.
In reply to Janet Salmons

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Robin Yap -

I have a follow-up question Janet.

With trust building strengthening with every iteration (you mentioned a cyclic process), how does that affect the dynamic between a new (or late) member of a team thrust into the trusting cycle when everybody else within the team are already at a different level of trust. Does this mean that trust can be peer induced (or even forced) even though the relationship between original trustor-trustee may not be as strong yet? If that is the case, how can it be prevented (if this is not the desired behaviour) or how can it be leveraged (if not just trustor-trustee relationship is encouraged but also peer-trustee relationship)?

In reply to Janet Salmons

Re: Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations

by Sylvia Currie -
The more I think about this question that Janet asks the more I realize how HUGE it is: From Collaborate Online Part 1: Laying the Foundations by jsalmons on Thu Dec 6 14:57:00 2007:

In the case of instructional design-- which I know interests many of you-- what steps are important? What do we need to think about, what questions should we ask?

I'll start to chip away at it. I'm drawing on my own experiences here, and also a bit on my dreams for the future. A couple things come to mind immediately -- shifts that need to take place for collaborative work to be successful in a formal educational context. As instructional designers, we need to:
  1. get past this idea that everyone should be learning the same things.
  2. deal with the issue of equitable allocation and recognition of work among group members.
A collaborative project where the topics, roles, milestones, etc are negotiated is probably not going to be easily followed by a sit-down exam or a grading scheme that looks only at the final products. So instructional designers need to work with the whole package. For collaboration to be successful it needs to fit well with the entire educational system. There can be existing practices that get in the way of successful collaboration.

That's one little chip. :-)