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We have started to evaluate as many Web 2.0 services as we possibly can and hope to get more done over the summer. When it comes to collaborative writing the list can found under the activities.

Thanks to Slyvie I am now on Wave and will try to give it a quick once over in the coming days if at all possible! Best wishes E.A.

I asked earlier both in Wave & the Scope Moodle about how we were using collaborative tools with peers - and was a little surprised that none of you answered - maybe it was too much of an obvious question! ( SCoPE - Collaborative Tools and peers. )

As I'd also asked about Tools (which moved towards pedagogies), I thought I'd try with a tool that I really feel uncomfortable with ... MindMapping - to try to summarise the key points. Mindmapping's one of those things that I know suits a lot of people, and it's something I encourage my students to use, though I don't really like them myself - especially not in a collaborative sense; I can just about cope with them from a personal organisational pointof view. Given, however, that I've also said that I feel it's very hard to really encourage students to use techniques that I'm not happy with, I figured that this was the ideal opportunity for you to all encourage me to see the benefits of collaborative? cooperative? mindmapping.

I've put it in MindMeister - & have set the password as moodle - so hopefully you can all have a go at editing it (please do!) - but anyone just finding it can't destroy it too much :)

Cindy Underhill wrote,

Much depends upon the willingness of collaborators to check their egos at the door - and this is sometimes a hard pill to swallow - for any of us!

How well put! Thank you Cindy. I also agree that true collaboration is, indeed rare; even when it's face to face. My gut feeling is that it's even more difficult in an online environment.

Hi Sylvia,
I think the 5 points you raised were really useful. I'd just like to try and build on that if I can by saying that there is a real need in collaboration to recognise that the group is a resource as much as a process for learning. In addition, the diversity that exists in most groups is the driver for learning together. Walter Stroup at University of Austin, Texas puts it better when he says that the diversity is the 'engine' for learning.

Best wishes,

Nicholas Bowskill,
Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow,

Creator of Shared Thinking
Jenny, this is good question. How to keep on top of the new waves created as part of a project. It seems there should be an easy way to do that but I'm not quite sure what it is!

One is to:
  • search on
  • save the search
  • regularly click the saved search link to see what waves pop up
I tried another little experiment just now. I created a new wave called SCoPE waves:
Then I dragged each SCoPE wave into this new wave. That gives an organizer page with links to the various waves. It appears that it also brings in all members of the waves into one.

I also tried without success to embed the new wave into a SCoPE page. I'll keep working on that one!

Peter Rawsthorne wrote,

What became most important is that we all collaboratively edited the summary at the end of the discussion (and brought a distinct and comprehensive closure to the "learning event")

One thing that struck me as I read Peter's observations is that there are key phases of the collaborative process, and they aren't necessarily addressed by one "tool".

As we've been playing around in Wave (10 waves, 250 messages so far!) I've been thinking about the fantastic view we have on the process of collaboration. Isn't that one huge gripe we hear from learners -- that there is an unfair distribution of work, and that they don't see their ideas represented and acknowledged in the final product? If we are to emphasize the process of learning as well as the product, isn't it wonderful to see how discoveries are made, how ideas are formed, how documents are constructed... I'm completely in awe of the 'replay' feature in wave for that purpose.

I'm also fascinated in watching the activity in our SCoPE Waves by the willingness of participants to jump in with quick, short replies and with new questions and observations. Why is that? Does it feel different than a forum? Less worry about noise? I often think that's a barrier in mailing lists and forums where members are subscribed by email. We're so concerned about INBOXES these days!

There are other phases of collaborative work that may be more challenging. Summaries [insert better word...learning landscapes?] are so useful, but always seem to be such a burden. For example, I'm always challenged by the best way to summarize SCoPE seminars. I've tried a few different formats:

Usually the challenge is TIME, but also it can be a lonely process -- one that few participants are keen to participate in. And for sure more can be automated.

How do we facilitate the summary phases of collaboration (end of a phase, end of a project, end of a discussion)? What tools enable us to see the work we have done together more clearly? This is on my mind now because we've only been at it for 5 days and we've generated so many questions, ideas, resources, bits of advice... It would be great if we could create a useful outcome resource for this seminar. Hey, are we collaborating? big grin

We seem to have made the assumption that collaboration is a good thing. One of the worst learning experiences I had was on my MA when we had to collaborate to produce a group presentation. I ended up feeling that I had to compromise my beliefs and educational philosophy to fit in with the group.

I can clearly remember Stephen Downes at an ALT-C conference (2005) saying that collaboration is - "the joining up of things that do not naturally want to be joined up" -

Shock horror in the conference audience!

I also remember the first time I read Ferreday and Hodgson's article which they presented at the 2008 Networked Learning Conference -

The Tyranny of Participation and Collaboration in Networked Learning -

This article has made me a lot more sympathetic to students who want to do their own thing.

Whilst I have had some extremely enjoyable and fruitful collaborative learning experiences, it is not always a positive experience and I think in some circumstances can be detrimental to learning. I can't imagine the anti-social genius Newton wanting to collaborate! Would we have his laws of motion if he had been required to work in a team?