“Thing 7″ for the MSc module Theory and evaluation of eLearning:
Collaborating with Google Docs
Google Docs are “cloud” based documents, normally owned and controlled by the account holder that created and hosts them. However, unlike files stored on a local hard drive, they are always available over the Internet. They can be shared with invited people for viewing or editing, they can even be published for “the world” to see. They do have rather convoluted web addresses though, which means they are not as likely to be picked up during a casual Internet browse. The real strength of publishing a document to the web is that the address can be used by the creator or collaborators to display the editable document in other places…
The above document “lives” in the Google Docs area of my Google account and on 17th February 2011 I invited a number of collaborators to contribute to it. It can be compared to the snap-shot of the original document at the end of this post to see how creative we became!
It seems clear that a document that can be edited by more than one person from anywhere in the world that has Internet access must intrinsically allow collaboration, but does it follow that this promotes interactivity? Feuerstein (2008) tell us that the ability to achieve something starts with the belief that it can be achieved…
For the so called “techno-phobe” that is quite open about “not doing” technology this could clearly pose a challenge. Such people are, however, often comfortable with a Yacci (2000 p8) interaction loop in more familiar surroundings…
This might involve producing a document in a word processor, emailing it to a colleague for review and receiving it back with the reviewer’s comments. By building on existing skills it may be possible for a level of belief to be established that Feuerstein attests will allow a person to see that the step from current knowledge to a potentially easier way of working is not really that big. This could promote the belief that interaction through a cloud based document is not so different to known review processes, and this could in turn remove reservations about on-line interaction.
So how did the collaboration go? Compare the image below with the one at the start of this post. For those collaborators familiar with MS Office type drawing tools interaction should only have required the adaptation of existing skills, together with the belief that it was do-able.
Feuerstein, R. (2008) Address to the NUA national conference, National Urban Alliance YouTube Channel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXopVpQwivY [Accessed 17-Feb-11]
Yacci, M. (2000) Interactivity Demystified, a structural definition for distance education and instructional CBT, Educational Technology, XL (4).