Back to Basics: Electronic Collaboration in the Education Sector

Back to Basics: Electronic Collaboration in the Education Sector

Darren Lee Pullen (University of Tasmania, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-106-3.ch014
OnDemand PDF Download:


Communication technology, which is not constrained by geographical boundaries, has increasingly resulted in faster and more efficient ways to maintain contact. When utilising electronic technology in the classroom it is essential for teachers to respect cultural differences and instil the importance of basic communication skills to their students. Many school students are extremely comfortable in using developing technologies, but are unaware of the equally important need to establish relationships to enhance the quality of information they are exchanging. Electronic communication is a necessary part of developing the skills of a lifelong learner. These forms of communication have encouraged processes such as collaboration to occur by creating exciting synergies between people and resources that may have not been previously possible. This chapter will explore several examples of how schools and teachers are using the Internet to collaborate and share ideas and resources between staff and students.
Chapter Preview


At no other time in human history have humans been able to communicate as freely or as widely as they now do in the digital age. Because of its ability to speed up communication processes, as well as its inclusion in many diverse areas, technology has increasingly become an important element in many collaborative processes. Many of the traditional tools used to collaborate, such as phone calls, letters, and personal conversations are time consuming, and at times, inappropriate for the speed of communication required. Most areas of our modern life are affected by digital technology from global positioning systems (GPS) in vehicles, which help us find our way, through to mobile telephones that allow us to communicate anywhere and anytime. This pervasive and rapidly developing technology gives us rapid and easy access to information. Technology has enabled people to meet regionally, nationally, and internationally through the technology of videoconferencing, which allows them to interact in real time (synchronous communication). The rapidity and frequency of this type of communication, however, presents new challenges to society’s values. As technology develops, it is necessary to develop or recontextualise laws, policies, personal skills and attitudes to foster its desirable aspects and mitigate its undesirable aspects.

Digital technology—specifically computers, the World Wide Web (Web or WWW), and the Internet—are reshaping communication processes. Geographical boundaries, which belong to the traditional era of communication, are becoming less important as technology pervades the globe. The rapid and pervasive nature of technology means that communication across the globe can be as instantaneous as face-to-face communication. Therefore, digital communication, which can occur globally or in the local classroom, conveys cultural and ethical values and meanings. These need to be understood and respected by school students if they are to be purposeful and productive users of digital technologies. In recognising these changes, it is important for the education sector not to see global changes only insofar as they affect local change. It is imperative for the education sector to recognise how electronic information can be used to provide greater depth and breadth to the process of learning in a global context. An important concept underpinning the effective use of digital technologies is communication and collaboration. In this chapter, the term collaboration refers to a pervasive relationship in which all parties are fully committed to a common goal. This chapter aims to highlight current practice and research as it pertains to digital communication in education, and along the way to stimulate thought on the topic of synergy and educational collaboration.


The term collaboration has been generally considered to be a process engaged in by more than two people; but this is where general agreement of the meaning ends and misuse of the term begins. Many people purport to work collaboratively when in fact the process is more cooperative, meaning there is less personal and financial risk (White & O’Brien, 1999; Winer & Ray, 2000). Engaging in a collaborative process is about embarking on a relationship which relies on the positive aspects of human nature to work effectively. Although there are many texts, particularly in management or business which describe group work strategies (Brown, 1991; Chalmers, 1992; DuBrin, 1997; McDermott, 2002; Reed & Garvin, 1983; Toseland & Rivas, 1998), it has been only recently that the human aspect of working together has been emphasised (Barrentine, 1993; Buzzanell, 1994; Clift, Veal, Holland, Johnson, & McCarthy, 1995; Farrell, 2001; John-Steiner, 2000; Paulus & Nijstad, 2003; Rosener, 1990; Rost, 1991; Winer & Ray, 2000). For the purpose of this chapter, the word collaboration is defined as a durable, intense and pervasive relationship which is built up over time. People who collaborate are fully committed to the relationship, and there are well-defined communication channels which operate on all levels.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Technology: The word “digital” comes from Latin—digitus, finger—and refers to one of the oldest tools for counting. When information is stored, transmitted or forwarded in digital format, it is converted into numbers—at the most basic machine-level as “zeroes and ones.” In the context of this chapter, the term represents technology that relies on the use of microprocessors; hence, computers and applications that are dependent on computers such as the Internet, as well as other devices such as video cameras, and mobile devices such as phones and personal-digital assistants (PDAs).

Education: Education encompasses teaching and learning specific knowledge, skills, and also something less tangible: the imparting of “learning how to learn” or “the concept of life long learning” which is based on knowledge, sound judgement, and wisdom. Education has as one of its fundamental goals the imparting of culture from generation to generation in addition to the skills and knowledge required to operate in society. At the heart of this teaching-learning process is communication and collaboration.

Knowledge Economy: Refers to how society and economies are changing their reliance from the labour and manufacturing of products or goods to an economy that is more reliant on the production and reengineering of information into knowledge. Hence, society and the economy are being transformed from a “physical-based” labour force to a “knowledge-based” one. The knowledge economy is centeralised on how digital technologies are transforming the way humans work, think, and act.

Community of Practice (CoP): Refers to the process of how learning occurs in a social context and that learners and instructors (teachers) come together through a shared interest or problem and collaborate over time to share ideas, experiences, and solutions to build the community. Within CoP, teacher peer mentoring offers a model for teachers to come together to learn from one another and to support each other in the learning process.

Collaboration: For the purpose of this chapter, the word collaboration has been expanded on from the general definition defined elsewhere in this book. Collaboration for this chapter is defined as a durable, intense, and pervasive relationship which is built up over time. People who collaborate are fully committed to the relationship, and there are well-defined communication channels which operate on all levels.

Synergy: Describes the type of energy created when participants are working towards the same goal and are able to share, exchange, and debate ideas in a supportive, constructive, and creative environment. Synergistic energy is necessary to create the third entity which although representative of the participants becomes more important than any individual in the collaborative group.

Netiquette: Refers to the rules or guidelines that users should follow when communicating with others over the Internet. The rules or etiquette of use ensure that users of technology know of and can follow rules to ensure that they do not offend other users and that what they communicate to others is understandable. These points are important when we consider that e-mail, bulletin boards and blogs often only reveal the text which the user has posted. This may lead to some ambiguity or miscommunication between users. To overcome some of this ambiguity, many users are taking advantage of emotion icons (emoticons) and acronyms to portray their feelings, emotions and facial expressions. For example, emoticons include:-) “happy,”:-/ “sceptical,”:-C “bummed,”:-O “oh,”:-& “tongue tied,”:-[ “not amused,” O:-) “angelic.” Whilst some common acronyms are BTW “by the way,” LOL “laughing out load,” ROTFL “rolling on the floor laughing,” TTFN “ta-ta for now,” IMHO “in my humble opinion,” IYKWIMAITYD “if you know what I mean and I think you do,” JK “just kidding,” NP “no problem,” WBS “write back soon,” and XMEQK “kiss me quick.” These emoticons and acronyms can also be used in text messages between mobile phone users.

Third Entity: The outcome of the group’s purpose for engaging in the collaborative process. As the project intensifies, the third entity will seemingly become to the participants more important that their own needs. The third entity appears to take on its own personality as participants sublimate their ego and work effectively together towards a shared goal. The third entity encapsulates the group’s identity, and therefore, particular attention is paid to its professional presentation in the public domain.

Communication: The process of sharing information between two or more individuals to reach a common understanding of the ideas or information being conveyed. In the context of this chapter, communication also includes information, or data, that is shared, or transmitted, between two or more actors. These actors may be human or machine. This sharing of information between human and human; machine and machine; or between human and machine is underpinned by the need for the information to be understandable to both parties.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Michael Beyerlein
Janet Salmons, Lynn Wilson
Janet Salmons, Lynn Wilson
Chapter 1
Frances Deepwell
In this chapter, we consider two multi-institution, multinational education research projects in Europe that used a variety of technology to... Sample PDF
E-Research Collaboration, Conflict and Compromise
Chapter 2
Susanne Croasdaile
In the world of education, many occasions necessitate interorganizational collaboration. Geographical distance and time constraints are challenges... Sample PDF
Inter-Organizational E-Collaboration in Education
Chapter 3
Kumiko Aoki
This chapter discusses cultural differences in educational practices of the East and West. In East Asian countries, where Confucian philosophy has... Sample PDF
Cultural Issues in Global Collaborative Education
Chapter 4
Ken Stevens
The Internet and an expanding range of technologies have enabled small schools in rural communities in Atlantic Canada to collaborate in addressing... Sample PDF
The Development of Collaborative Structures to Support Virtual Classes in Small Schools
Chapter 5
Christine Marrett
Information communication technologies (ICTs) have facilitated institutional collaboration in distance education. Based on the study, Institutional... Sample PDF
Experiences in Collaboration in Distance Education from the Caribbean, Looking Beyond Electronic
Chapter 6
Neli Maria Mengalli
This chapter presents the course School Management and Technologies, and what emerged from the discourses of subjects that make it possible to... Sample PDF
Collaboration and Networks: Basis for the Management Based on Knowledge in Education
Chapter 7
Niki Lambropoulos, Panagiotis Kampylis, Sofia Papadimitriou, Marianna Vivitsou, Alexander Gkikas
Recent rapid technological advancement has influenced communication and information management. In addition, it has facilitated collaboration, an... Sample PDF
Hybrid Synergy for Virtual Knowledge Working
Chapter 8
Chijioke J. Evoh
The purpose of this study is to examine the dynamics of collaborative partnership involving the private sector, government, and community groups in... Sample PDF
Collaborative Partnerships and the Application of ICTs in Secondary Education in South Africa
Chapter 9
Sandra J. Chrystal
This chapter reports on two University of Southern California collaborations that partner business communication classes with not-for-profit... Sample PDF
Technology Leverages a Community University Collaboration
Chapter 10
Tine Köhler, Michael Berry
Internationally distributed teams (IDTs) face challenges related to the team members’ diversity and geographic dispersion. However, research on IDTs... Sample PDF
Creating Synergy for Inter-Cultural Learning
Chapter 11
Iris C. Fischlmayr
In this chapter, factors “really” influencing virtual multicultural team work shall be described and a training design used for students and company... Sample PDF
A Training Design for Behavioral Factors in Virtual Multicultural Teams
Chapter 12
Jennifer V. Lock, Petrea Redmond
An international online collaborative learning experience was designed and implemented in preservice teacher education classes at the University of... Sample PDF
Working Collaboratively on the Digital Global Frontier
Chapter 13
John D. Murphy
This chapter introduces Collaboration Engineering as an approach to developing more effective collaborative sessions for interdisciplinary teams.... Sample PDF
Engineering for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Chapter 14
Darren Lee Pullen
Communication technology, which is not constrained by geographical boundaries, has increasingly resulted in faster and more efficient ways to... Sample PDF
Back to Basics: Electronic Collaboration in the Education Sector
Chapter 15
Elizabeth DePoy
This chapter presents and analyzes the scholarly basis and empirical work that resulted in the development of Techscape, the application of... Sample PDF
Designing University Techscapes
Chapter 16
Kathy Lynch, Aleksej Heinze, Eljse Scott
The barriers to global collaboration of yesteryear include country boundaries and time zones. Today, however, in a world where communication is... Sample PDF
Scholarly Collaboration Across Time Zones
Chapter 17
Christine Aikens Wolfe, Cheryl North-Coleman, Shari Wallis Williams, Denise Amos, Glorianne Bradshaw, Toby Emert
A group of National Writing Project teachers from around the nation attended a Professional Writing Retreat in Santa Fe in 2004 and continued their... Sample PDF
Stepping into the Role of Professional Writer
Chapter 18
Garry G. Burnett
This chapter introduces Media Synchronicity Theory as a means to examine the influence of technology use on the relationship between a... Sample PDF
Collective Identity and Learning in a Virtual Team
Chapter 19
Janet Salmons
Social constructivism is an established educational theory based on the principle that learners and teachers co-construct knowledge through social... Sample PDF
E-Social Constructivism and Collaborative E-Learning
Chapter 20
Jeffrey Mok
Technological artifacts such as computers and mobile electronic devices have dramatically increased our learning interactions with machines. Coupled... Sample PDF
Social and Distributed Cognition in Collaborative Learning Contexts
Chapter 21
Qing Li
Increasingly, educators in a range of venues and institutions (e.g., K-12 schools, post secondary institutions, training facilities) are being... Sample PDF
Modeling the Model for Distributed Learning
Chapter 22
Kathryn Dixon
This chapter is the result of an investigation into the capacity of an electronic portfolio (e-folio) to promote reflection and collaboration in a... Sample PDF
Capacity of an Electronic Portfolio to Promote Professionalism, Collaboration and Accountability in Educational Leadership
Chapter 23
Robert J. Redmon Jr.
Departmental e-mail reflection groups promise to help resolve two of the most pressing problems facing the teaching profession, finding time for... Sample PDF
E-Mail Reflection Groups as Collaborative Action Research
Chapter 24
Janet L. Holland
This chapter reports on a mixed study dealing with the impact of integrating student peer mentor facilitators into online discussions in an effort... Sample PDF
Integrating Student Peer Mentoring Online
Chapter 25
Rosemarie Reynolds, Michael T. Brannick
This study examined the effect of computer-based videoconferencing and text-based chat on mentoring relationships, and compared the findings to... Sample PDF
Outcomes of Computer Mentoring
Chapter 26
Linda L. Larson, Paul Boyd-Batstone, Carole Cox
When teachers integrate online discussions into courses, they are faced with the challenge of deciding how to evaluate the postings. This chapter... Sample PDF
Rubric to Determine a Quality Online Discussion Posting
Chapter 27
Andre L. Araujo
Recent advances in Web-based technologies along with investments in international outsourcing and offshore locations have unquestionably increased... Sample PDF
Instrumental and Social Influences on Adoption of Collaborative Technologies in Global Virtual Teams
Chapter 28
Kenneth David Strang
Logically, it makes sense that organizations can be successful if their employees collaborate effectively, in a synergistic manner. Economically... Sample PDF
Collaborative Synergy and Leadership in E-Business
Chapter 29
Gilliean Lee
Recent industry and business trends can be described as shorter life cycle, increased speed to market, customizability, and a wide variety (rather... Sample PDF
Overview on Information Systems and Tools for Collaborative Enterprise: Business Impacts and Managerial Issues
Chapter 30
Apivut Chakuthip, Yvonne Brunetto, Rod Farr-Wharton, Sheryl Ramsay
This chapter uses the structural and relational dimension of Social Capital Theory as the lens for examining the factors affecting a Small and... Sample PDF
Trust, Social Networks and Electronic Commerce Adoption
Chapter 31
Bolanle A. Olaniran
Trust and relational development represents a critical challenge in online collaboration groups. Often the problem is attributed to several factors... Sample PDF
A Proposition for Developing Trust and Relational Synergy in International e-Collaborative Groups
Chapter 32
Peter Rittgen
The increasing complexity of products and services encourages more and more companies to form collaborative networks. As these companies are... Sample PDF
Supporting Inter-Business Collaboration via Contract Negotiation and Enactment
Chapter 33
Larry R. Irons
This chapter reviews research in distributed work, relating it to the way organizations manage collaboration between home-based customer support... Sample PDF
The Limits of Anytime, Anywhere Customer Support
Chapter 34
Tobias Müller-Prothmann
Collaboration is a constitutional element of any organization. To conceptualize the organization as an evolving system of interactions means to put... Sample PDF
KMmaster® for Collaboration and Knowledge Management
Chapter 35
Steven Jeddeloh
This essay explores ultimate team performance as experienced by veteran airline pilots working together with a common purpose. The research... Sample PDF
Ultimate Performance in a Highly Functioning Team
Chapter 36
Theresa Rich
This case study presents the work done to develop and execute the global vision for a 24/7 matrix organization within a major multinational... Sample PDF
Globalizing a Function within a Company
Chapter 37
R. Todd Stephens
This chapter examines the elements of the new Web 2.0 technology base and reviews the lessons learned when implementing these technologies.... Sample PDF
Integrating Web 2.0 Technologies within the Enterprise
Chapter 38
Mairi Stewart Kershaw
This chapter details one project, “Linking for a Change” (LFC), connecting schools and public/social sector providers of education for sustainable... Sample PDF
An Evaluation of ‘Linking for a Change'
Chapter 39
Lynn Wilson
Environmental sustainability and global climate change issues intensify the need for collaborations between scientists and policymakers. Working in... Sample PDF
Collaboration in the Service of Knowledge Co-Creation for Environmental Outcomes, Science and Public Policy
Chapter 40
Diego Liberati
In current economic and scientific scenarios, interactions and organization models tend to be more and more oriented to flexibility of... Sample PDF
Networked Experiments in Global E-Science
Chapter 41
Jeroen Wolbers, Peter Groenewegen, Pieter Wagenaar
The implementation of GMS (Integrated Emergency room System) in the Netherlands has had a tumultuous record. A direct consequence of the... Sample PDF
ICT to Facilitate Emergency Response in The Netherlands
Chapter 42
Elena Corradini
This chapter discusses a project for the implementation of a digital repository in a specific context, namely a small Italian town. The latest... Sample PDF
Enhancing Collective Memory with a Community Repository
Chapter 43
Simon Milne
This chapter examines the development and associated outcomes of two government funded projects designed to support small tourism enterprise (STE)... Sample PDF
ICT and Tourism Enterprise Collaboration in Rural New Zealand
Chapter 44
Rubye Braye, Eric Evans
This chapter originated as a reflection of the communication between U.S. facilitators and a Rwandan host as they ecollaborated in planning... Sample PDF
2007 Leadership and Human Resources Training in Rwanda
Chapter 45
James L. Smith
This chapter reveals the common theme three rural Minnesota communities used in their collaboration efforts in to install and deliver broadband... Sample PDF
Collaboration through Municipal Motivators
Chapter 46
Keith Baker
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is often seen as a vehicle for organizational reform. However, the established literature on... Sample PDF
Understanding the Dialectic Relationship between Intraand Inter-Organizational Cooperation
Chapter 47
Rakesh Biswas, Jayanthy Maniam, Edwin Wen Huo Lee, Shashikiran Umakanth, Premalatha Gopal Das
This is an illustrative process description of a collaborative project utilizing a multidisciplinary approach. The requirement for collaboration... Sample PDF
Electronic Collaboration Toward Social Health Outcomes
Chapter 48
Beverly-Jean Daniel, April Boyington Wall
This chapter presents a case study of the process of employing technology in a project involving the development and presentation of a unique... Sample PDF
Technology Enhanced Collaborative Leadership Development
Chapter 49
Lisa Faithorn, Baruch S. Blumberg
Complex social, economic, political and environmental challenges as well as new research areas that cut across disciplinary, institutional and... Sample PDF
Lessons Learned from the NASA Astrobiology Institute
Chapter 50
Lynn Wilson, Janet Salmons
The concluding chapter offers the editors’ insights into the book chapters’ combined contribution. Using the editors’ Collaborative Integration... Sample PDF
Online Collaborative Integration and Recommendations for Future Research
About the Editors
About the Contributors