Collaborative Web Tools for Training

July 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm Leave a comment

The Scenario – A Collaborative Training Environment

A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

The challenge in this scenario is to facilitate collaborative learning at a distance.  Collaborative web technologies can be integrated into this type of training environment to engage participants in interactive, problem based group work that is focused on the real-world needs of the participants (Beldarrain, 2009). They can also be used to help learners and facilitators keep content relevant and up to date despite distance and time constraints (Beldarrain, Y, 2006). In this scenario, I would consider the use of two web based tools – wikis and microblogs.

Wikis

A wikki is made up of user-generated web pages focused on specific topics (Beldarrain, 2009). Users can structure and organize the content in the wiki in the ways that make the most sense for what they are trying to accomplish. They can include links, video, audio and documents. In our scenario, participants could upload screen captures and documents that other participants could comment on and edit. Participants can continue to update the wiki as they move what they learn in training out into the field. The wiki becomes a repository of relevant, timely information that users can refer back to when needed; and that subsequent training participants can learn from and contribute to.

The Adult Literacy and Education Wiki is a community of practice of researchers, educators, students and adult learners on topics of adult literacy, numeracy and basic and secondary education.

Mircroblogging

Wikis are useful tools for creating, organizing and sharing collective knowledge. But what about when participants have an insight or idea they would like to process with others? What about when they are working in the field and come across a bit of useful information or tip that might make life easier? If you think of a wiki as working together in a virtual conference room, then a microblog is running into someone at the water cooler and sharing something you just figured out.

People around a water cooler

Microblogging is like running into someone at the water cooler

Microblogging tools offer a solution for more informal collaboration and learning. It allows users to post short amounts of text, video, audio and pictures through the internet, mobile applications and text messages. Users can also view and comment on the microblog from mobile devices. A microblog allows for blogging on the go and access to just in time information when and where it is needed.

Twitter is probably the most widely known microblogging site. However, tumblr may have broader applications in a collaborative training environment such as our training scenario. tumblr allows users to create posts that include text, links, quotes, audio and video (tumblr, 2011). Posts can be tagged for easy searching. Unlike Twitter, posts can be longer then 140 characters. It is also easier to follow the posts on a tumblr page. The posts and comments are organized and archived in one place, making it easy for viewers to follow the thread of discussions and posts. In the case of our scenario, the instructor can set up a tumblr account and give participants permission to post to it. Participants can post updates, discussion questions, screen captures or video. Like the wiki the tumblr site could become a repository for relevant timely information.

World-Shaker is a tumblr site about social media in education. It also aggregates other tumblr sites with the education tag creating a network of instructors who are blogging on tubmlr.

Take Home Message

Web tools can be useful for facilitating collaborative learning at a distance. They have the added benefit of providing relevant, up-to-date information for participants after the course. This can extend learning and collaboration well after the training and provide user generated performance support tools. Consider tools such as wikis that allow users to work together to create and curate content, as well as more lightweight tools such as microblogs which allow for more informal learning and sharing.

References

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education. 27, 139 – 153.

tumblr. (2011). “About tumblr.” Accessed July 12, 2011 from http://www.tumblr.com/about.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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