Collaboration and Technology

In his TEDTalks discussion, Rheingold (2005) presented an interesting take on the evolution of collaboration (see http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html). In the examples that he portrayed, he suggested that humans have a natural tendency to form groups to accomplish particular goals. However, the formation of these groups is influenced by particular goals and social factors and, in turn, influences how future interactions and group dynamics.

In general, I agree with Rheingold’s perspective that humans are naturally social and seek out opportunities to interact with others. Collaboration serves as an opportunity to share ideas, to get feedback from others, to explore one’s creativity, and to continue to progress forward.

As noted by Rheingold, the process of change continues to accelerate; technology has both contributed to the increased pace and allowed individuals to keep up. Current technology makes it possible for individuals to collaborate in a variety of forms, communicate ideas, and construct new understandings. Constructivist learning is essentially based on the opportunity for individuals to actively explore concepts and construct their understanding of those concepts. Current technologies allow individuals to construct information and quickly share it with the rest of the world. This sharing of information creates the opportunity for unprecedented collaboration (both direct and indirect) with others around the world. Although Wikipedia (as noted by Rheingold) has come under its share of criticism, the net result illustrates the ability of people to collaboratively create, gather, and connect vast amounts of information. And in the modern world, information has become a premium commodity within the global community.

As collective group, then, how will people evolve in order to function effectively in collaborative efforts that span the globe and that result in massive amounts of product? What will collaboration have to look like in order for us to maximize the potential afforded by our innate abilities and technological tools we have developed to support those abilities?

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About Mike Dillon

High School Math/Physics Teacher Online Instructor for Axia College Ph.D. Candidate at Walden University.
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6 Responses to Collaboration and Technology

  1. Stephen Raymond says:

    I also agreed with Rheingold’s observation that we are colaborative by nature, but how we are to acheive this in our time is a bit more complicated. You mention his reference to Wikipedia as one of those major colaborative efforts, but you also mention its criticism, that is it isn’t recognized as authoritative or scholary, especially from academia. This causes me to ask the question: Will other endeavors to collectively answer questions and provide data repositories by scoffed at as lacking credibility? What will it take to accept these things as viable, reliable, and credible sources for others to use?

    • Hi Stephen…

      I think that you raised a great point about the credibility of collaborative efforts that developed by the general public. I think that credibility will be a significant issue as things continue to evolve in technology and as more and more people finds ways to contribute to the ongoing online conversation.

      I think that what probably needs to happen is that the traditional methods in academia will need to evolve simultaneously. Are there ways to appropriately speed up the process? Are there mechanisms that can be used to moderate the credibility of online content? Are there effecient safeguards that can be used to protect the intellectual property of individuals while still ensuring that the collective knowledge and understanding will continue to positively grow?

      Mike 🙂

  2. durff01 says:

    You asked, “how will people evolve in order to function effectively in collaborative efforts that span the globe and that result in massive amounts of product?”
    I think we already are, take Google, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, DOW, and Walmart, to name a few of the over 200 multinational corporations in no particular order. I think the real question is how do we the little people who are not multinational corporations on international stock markets collaborate more effectively on this global playing field to get work done efficiently?

    • Hi Lisa…

      You make a really great point about the differences between individuals contributing to the global community versus corporations that are already globally interconnected.

      What types of skills do you think that individuals (or small groups organizations)will need to have into to get effectively plugged in to the global community?

      Mike 🙂

  3. Your ending questions really give reason for hesitation to think. I wonder what the implications will be if repetitive learning of rote information is ever replaced with inspired imagination to build innovation. Don’t you want to see 2025 and 2050 and more? We think Dewey would recognize education today as a familiarity to his time, will we be able to construct learning differently given the growth in collaboration and communication to change the picture? I think so. Momentum is gaining and the effects are obvious to all what global connectivity will mean to collective knowledge. Shaping our learners to make the best of it all for a better society is what we need to teach.
    Thanks for sharing,
    ~Laurie

    • Hi Laurie…

      Isn’t it amazing that despite the dramatic cultural difference between today and the early 1900’s, Dewey’s message and educational philosophies still apply? This goes to show that even though the technologies, values, and priorities change over time, the underlying philosophies that describe how people learn are still much the same.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Mike 🙂

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