Educational Technology to Address Issue:
One way you can address this collaboration problem is to use Google Docs with your partners that are scattered worldwide. Have you ever heard of Google Docs? What do you know about it? Google Docs is an e-tool that will help you collaborate, construct/create, discuss, comment, and provide feedback on new material for your group project without having to leave home. The only necessities you would need would be to have a gmail account, which is free to setup, and a device with internet access and a keypad. To learn more, click HERE.
Learning Theories that support GoogleDocs as a valid e-tool for collaborative projects:
You may or may not realize that Google Docs can be validated and supported by several learning theories. Reflective practice, andragogy, and constructivism are learning theories in which Google Docs can defend. In terms of reflective practice, Google Docs allows you to continuously edit, contemplate, and review your work and others within the group. Saved versions of the group’s work allows you and other group members to retrace your steps in the collaborative process. This can lead to reflection and analysis of the work. The chat box provides an opportunity for you and others within the group to ask questions and to ask for explanations/clarifications as to why a member did or wrote something a certain way. From there, this leads to personal reflection, analysis and critical thinking of your work, others’ work, and what could have been differently to achieve different outcomes for your group project.
Through the lens of Andragogy, Google Docs allows you to bring your life experiences to the collaborative work space. The collaborative project will reflect your life experiences in your contribution to the project. The end product will each have everyone’s personal spin on it that will make the project unique. Personal connections, emotions, motivation, and your backgrounds will play a large role in the semantics and creation of the collaborative project. High movitation and personal connections can leads to increased work and understanding. Emotions displayed by you or others can be a positive or negative influence in discussions and the final project. Cultural differences will also play a role in how one uses google docs’ features. (Will you be formal/informal in your collaborative approach? Will certain tasks/options be unfamiliar due to your cultural background?)
“Learn by doing” is put into practice, which is a part of constructivism/social constructivism. As more users spend time in Google docs, the more familiar and elaborate the functions, use, and end product will be. Watching and seeing other group members use different tasks and elements within Google docs (in real time) will help the individual learn new ways to use this e-tool and make the project more effective and successful. You can also learn more about the content of the project through your interactions with others within the group. Going beyond the project itself, interactions on Google Docs with the others in the group will influence your learning in one form or another.