This chapter explores the role of digital technologies in promoting interaction and collaboration at educational and research institutions. It describes some forms of digital collaboration, and explores how educational and research institutions employ digital technologies to reach learners inside and outside the institutional boundaries. The chapter investigates a number of digital collaboration tools and their characteristics, and highlights some aspects of employing these tools to support interaction among students, teachers, researchers, and different learning communities with a special focus on science. Some cases of integrating digital technologies in the educational process and in research are also given. At the end of the chapter, insights are discussed, and a summary is presented.
One of the main features of the development of digital technologies is the expansion of social media; its main characteristics are sharing, participation, interaction, and collaboration. Rapid advancements in social media tools are changing the way we communicate and interact with each other. Support and organization interaction and the facilitation of various collaboration tasks utilize these advancements.
Social media include web-based internet sites that facilitate social interaction in many ways, including social networking; social bookmarking; microblogging; video, image, and audio sharing; virtual words; and much more. (Joosten, 2012)
In order to achieve effective student engagement in education, it is essential to facilitate the way they interact, collaborate, and share knowledge and experiences. Social media help to engage students in the learning process by virtually connecting communities of students, teachers, and researchers. Furthermore, new social media tools are continually being developed and utilized for educational purposes. The properties of social media allow for collaboration and active participation in generating and sharing knowledge among peers and research groups (Battrawi & Muhtaseb, 2013).
This advancement in social media tools has increased the demand of the world’s educational systems for new information and communication technologies to support the educational process by making information accessible anywhere and at anytime. It has also encouraged scientists and researchers to explore and utilize new online interaction tools to share information with people in their networks.