Using Google Wave for Collaboration Beyond the VLE

Brian Mulligan

Institute of Technology Sligo

Virtual Learning Environments (Learning Management Systems) will always struggle to keep up with the functionality of generally available web based collaboration tools.  This begs the question as to whether they should even try.  Apart from limitations in functionality, it may be difficult or impossible within a VLE to collaborate outside the class group or outside the educational institution.  These restrictions have led many to suggest that many online learning activities should be carried out outside the confines of the VLE.  Google Wave is an example of an openly available collaboration tool that can be used by learners outside the VLE.  In December 2009,  Institute of Technology Sligo (Ireland) and University of Illinois at Springfield  (USA) brought together two groups of students in a Google Wave discussion.  The purpose of this test was to evaluate the usefulness of the newly launched collaborative tool for such interaction.  However, the exercise also revealed much about the value to learners of such collaborations beyond their own class group.  Twelve students took part in the test and were subsequently surveyed on both the usefulness of the tool and the usefulness of such inter-institutional collaboration. This presentation describes the collaborationand the results of that survey and reflects on the value and potential of this approach.
Mulligan, B., Institute of Technology Sligo (http://brian.mulligan.googlepages.com/), Schroeder, R., University of Illinois at Springfield (http://rayschroeder.googlepages.com/)

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