The barriers to global collaboration of yesteryear include country boundaries and time zones. Today, however, in a world where communication is thriving on new technologies, these barriers have been overcome, not only by the technology itself, but also by the collaborators in a desire (and need) to extend knowledge, seize opportunities, and build partnerships. This chapter reports on one such collaboration: a case study where the focus is the writing of a scholarly article between authors from Australia, England, and South Africa. The challenges of different time zones, academic calendars, and managing the collaboration are outlined in this chapter. Findings from the case study suggest that the key elements of success are related to individual and project management techniques, and not the technology per se. The constructivist learning theory, as well as the e-moderation model are supported by this work, and thus extend their application to the academic writing process.
The impact of information communication technology (ICT) in higher education has provoked a surge of publications examining online collaborative work. The dominant emphasis has been on students’ learning through their engagement with technology, and in general, the application of technology for educational purposes and how these are best incorporated in the curriculum (Collins, 2002; Salmon, 2000). Pedagogy is understood to be the science of teaching, and it is the role of a teacher to be aware of the teaching process to facilitate student learning. Pedagogic research suggests that pedagogic paradigms are shifting from a behaviorist approach towards a constructivist stance (Cullen, Hadjivassiliou, Hamilton, Kelleher, Sommerlad, & Stern, 2002; Shepard, 2000), and that constructivism as it is applied today, is enabled by technologies that facilitate interaction, discourse, and interactive writing (Lapadat, 2002). This enablement is exemplified by the work on Conversational Framework (Laurillard, 1993/2002) and Conversational Theory (Heinze, Procter, & Scott, 2007; Scott, 2001a, 2001b). These publications highlight the development of a conversational dialogue between student and the teacher, and how different types of ICT can facilitate different aspects of the dialogue. The concepts of communities have been renegotiated in the Internet era where virtual communities have become a popular paradigm (Bell, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Constructivism: Pedagogic theory that builds on the ideas of Jean Piaget (1896–1980), John Dewey (1859–1952), and Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896–1934). This pedagogy emphasis that learning is a social activity and therefore should be facilitated via a continuous interaction of learner with teacher. The emphasis of learning is to learn problem solving skills in relation to real life (Shepard, 2000).
Capstone Course (or Team Projects, or Industry Project, or Industry Experience Project): The capstone course of any university degree is the integration of all learning gained from courses in the major with other learning from all supplementary courses undertaken to attain the degree (Moore, 2005). “A Capstone course forms the culmination of many learning experiences students encounter during their academic careers” (Lynch et al., 2007).
Asynchronous Communication: Refers to communication which is not real-time (or asynchronous); for example, an e-mail dialogue.
E-Collaboration: Work that involves more than one individual working towards a common goal through the use of information and communication technologies.
Synchronous Communication: An instant (or synchronous) communication is where participants exchange messages in real-time; for example instant messenger dialogue via Skype™.
Collaborative Work: Work that involves more than one individual working towards a common goal.
Information Communication Technology (ICT): A broad term encompassing the use of software and hardware to facilitate manipulation and processing of information. Examples of ICT include laptop computer and the Internet.
Pedagogy: Understood to be the science of teaching, concerned with the method used to facilitate student learning.