In this post I want to suggest two technologies to facilitate a collaborative learning environment given the following case scenario:
“A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration”.
Given the previous case, WebEx and Yammer are two technology solutions that could promote a collaborative training environment for workers located in different areas that need to communicate and share screen captures, information, and documents.
WebEx is a Cisco product that lets people in different locations meet in real time. WebEx provides an online learning environment with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video and collaboration options that allow participants to interact as if face-to-face (Laureate Education, n.d.). WebEx also combines desktop sharing with phone conferencing and video to allow all the participants in the communication see and hear the same from their computers (Cisco WebEx, n.d.). This product could be a good technological solution when instructor and participants can connect at the same time to go through the workshop. However, if employees cannot connect at the same time, they still can access a recording of the conference or access the workshop information through Yammer which is the second technological solution suggested for this case.
Yammer is an enterprise private social network platform that looks very similar to Facebook which makes it user friendly to users. It has an online chat tool, the capacity for users to create groups, a dashboard with news, and the ability to share documents and different file formats (Yammer, n.d.).
Yammer was used in a study conducted at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Australia with the purpose to promote a community of practice about Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled learning and teaching blended learning strategies (Uys, 2010). Yammer was used to allow employees in CSU to share posts, do micro-blogging, and engage in casual conversation and informal discussions. The study showed the consistent growth of Yammer in getting employees joined to Yammer, posting messages, discussing topics around the ICT topic, and sharing information. Yammer also allowed the creation of sub-communities where participants engage in specific discussions and exchange of information. Uys (2010), concluded that Yammer proved to be an effective learning strategy as it created connections among the employees in CSU through the practice of sharing information. Yammer also assisted community members to develop a social presence in a supportive and encouraging environment, which is critical for active participation (Uys, 2010).
On the other hand, in the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNC) WebEx was implemented as the online/distance communication tool for faculty who taught distance education courses. WebEx allowed students actively interact with their peers and the instructor as they developed new knowledge. This tool also created an environment to get students motivated and engaged in the learning activities (Reid-Griffin, 2015).
Learning and teaching activities can be enhanced with the Internet to promote active learning and to facilitate participants’ intellectual involvement with the content (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). WebEx and Yammer are two technologies that promote collaboration, active participation, and communication channels for distance education. These two technologies could be a good set of platforms for the case presented initially to allow a collaborative learning environment in the workplace with employees located in geographically different areas. The most important thing to keep in mind is to implement a technology that can be mastered by the participants and the instructors to be an effective solution, and carefully planning the learning activities to ensure a positive learning outcome (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).
Cisco WebEx. (n.d.). What is WebEx web conferencing?. [Web post]. Retrieved from http://www.webex.com.au/overview/
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). “The technology of distance education” [Multimedia]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Reid-Griffin, A. (2015). Connecting teacher education students in instructional design. In D. Slykhuis & G. Marks (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (pp. 455-457). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/p/150032/
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Uys, P. (2010). Blended learning in the ICT-enabled learning and teaching community of practice at Charles Sturt University. In J. Herrington & C. Montgomerie (Eds.), Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2010 (pp. 258-267). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/p/34647/
Yammer. (n.d.). Bring your team together. [Web post]. Retrieved from https://products.office.com/en/yammer/yammer-overview