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Collaborative Tools for e-Learning
When my colleague Padma Medury and I conducted a survey on collaborative technologies and groupware in 1990, little did we know the degree to which Web-based tools would reshape and elevate this field. We discovered conferencing and collaboration tools fo
Exactly one decade after our national survey, countless e-learning tools for collaboration and teamwork were showcased at the 2000 Online Learning Conference. Unfortunately, most of these either lacked adequate funding or were not viable products to begin with. In addition, little direction was provided as to what tools might fit different collaborative needs.
Despite the confusion, there continue to be indications that we are on the threshold of an exciting new era for education, training and society at large. As momentum builds, collaborative e-learning tools are changing the way we work, learn and socialize.
There is no mistaking the shift in society’s focus from thriving on competition to the need for collaboration. Communication and conversation are among the keys to learning. As Peter Drucker often points out, we need knowledge workers who are skilled in problem-solving, collaboration and learning. Therefore, education must prepare workers for these environments.
Collaborative technologies have emerged to offer a way to familiarize learners with these new expectations and experiences. While current collaboration tools include e-mail, computer networks, whiteboards, bulletin board systems, chat lines and online presentation tools, a decade or two from now they could include extensive mentoring networks, collaboration effectiveness indices, collaborative learning portals, interplanetary chat networks and free-lance instructor exchange programs. Already, the immense array of online resources and collaborative tools has resulted in an exploding interest in e-learning among trainers, training managers, learners and the general public.
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