In modern times, technology has been incorporated in the learning institution where the students are able to share information technologically with other students either in the same institution, or from other parts of the country. Such tools include Facebook, myspace, and Wikipedia which are specially designed according to the specification of the use by the students. Collaborative technology has enabled several students to interact and broaden their knowledge as a result of sharing information through peer reviewed articles.
This ensures that, the information relied on by the students is regularly updated in accordance with the recent results of the researches as well as in line with recent discoveries. This paper will illustrate how collaborative technology works and how it can benefit students studying at the University of Memphis.
Collaborative technology refers to the use of software to help people especially students sharing a common task meet their goals through use of computers that are supported with the software. These include Facebook, myspace, Wikipedia, wikis, Flickr, goggle and eBay. There are various collaborative technologies specially designed to enable students with information that is computer based, and this can be in a meeting room, in the library or in a lecture hall. Sharing of information becomes easy among work teams that are widely dispersed regardless of their location in the country or any other place in the world. (Sheremetov, 2002)
Research has shown that, teamwork has become one of the strategies that are being used by many organizations including universities and the success of the team depends on how the members are able to access important information through getting connected to each other. The technology uses various web-based technologies such as websites, web-enabled data bases; electronic mailing lists and intranets to support students reach their goal as well as solve their problems.
The members are able to reach out to each other, become educated, reach information services, design strategic plans and critically apply their mission. Collaborative technology therefore increases membership and enhance communication of important issues with a regular update of content where a frequent update is required on some pages. It also informs the student on who they are and all that they are doing as well as things that are important.
For example, a wiki is made of three virtual tools that focus on satisfying the need of both students and their teachers and this includes collaborative annotation. This technology enables several students to use technology to comment on a single document, for example a play or a chapter in a book. Use of collaborative technology is advantageous among students because it allows students from different academic backgrounds to contribute their various perspectives and also learn from each other. (Harasim, 2000)
The second component of wiki regards co-construction document which allows students to work together within a virtual setting so as to create text which include wikipedia style articles. Research has shown that, the tool facilitate collaborative learning which in comparison to individual learning, is more successful. According to (Sheremetov, 2002), “Service learning is also enhanced where it refers to a strategy of teaching that encourages sharing of skills as well as knowledge among students especially outside their normal learning environment such as class.”
UTORwiki is another tool that research has shown has capacity to offer digital grading system. With this tool, the instructor is able to utilize the mouse to function like a red pen. The tools work by the student submitting completed assignment through electronic technology that is specially designed such that, the instructor and other assistants are able to grade and even return the results of the marked assignments without necessarily duplicating the results on a hard copy. (Harper, 2004)
Among the advantages of this collaborative technology that uses online system of grading are that; the cost of stationeries is significantly cut down as the method saves a lot of paper. The instructor is also able to screen all the feedbacks that are forwarded from teaching assistants and latter return the marked assignments to respective students through an easy process that is fast and highly secure. This becomes even more convenient if the instructors are serving more than one campus. (Harasim, 2000)
Among the tangible benefits of using collaborative technology to students are that, the knowledge of members of staff is expanded through exchanging of best practices among various members and this enhances personal professional development. Occurrence of parochialism is greatly minimized, where this refers to a situation where instructors interact with only those instructors that are close to them and this may result to them being not aware of the happenings taking place in the rest of the university. Joined-up thinking is also encouraged where a problem would not be viewed in isolation. Solutions to problems are based on causes and only tackle on the problems that are immediate.
Collaborative technology also widens the network of communication among many students both within the institution and even outside it. Educational developers who could be based on other roles are also given a chance to participate in the collaborative technology hence increasing the quality of education. The information provided by professionals in effort to contribute in the learning process is also validated through collaborative technology as the cognitive authority is enhanced when the collaboration is active. (Harper, 2004)
Emerging collaborative technology is therefore a great supplement to synchronous interaction in a school situation. It is offering a reinforcement to distance learning, which is a traditional model that has been used to teach a number of university courses. Students taking a similar course throughout the country are able to hold discussions and participate in class exercises that are interactive as well as handle class assignment as a group. It is therefore important to encourage students learn about collaborative technology as well as its principles in order to accommodate individual as well as cultural differences among themselves. (Sheremetov, 2002)
Harasim L. (2000): Shift happens: Online education as a new paradigm in learning: Elsevier.
Harper K. (2004): Distance learning, virtual classrooms, and teaching pedagogy in the Internet environment: Elsevier.
Sheremetov L. (2002): an interactive Web-based collaborative learning environment: Elsevier.