Technologies for collaboration and cooperation

Whether we’re working or learning, how we communicate is a key part of everything we do. Some web tools hinder communication while others may enable it. Last year, in communication and working together, I looked at a communities & networks model by Lilia Efimova:

One of the things I came up when playing with different ideas was to position teams, communities and networks in respect to the most prevalent forms of communication in each case (in all cases the other forms of communication are there as well, but are not at the core of it).

I find the model useful to look at what kinds of social tools are most suitable for the type of collaboration or cooperation we’re trying to foster. For instance, there is a big difference between Sharepoint and Facebook, though both enable some kind of collaboration. Structured, goal-oriented collaboration is typical of what happens inside the firewall in a controlled access environment. Informal, opportunity-drive (serendipitous) collaboration is more like the free-for-all of an event like #lrnchat. Communities of practice are a mix of both.

My experience is that there is no platform that covers the entire spectrum. Open networking environments lack the tools needed for project work while enterprise collaboration systems lack openness and flexibility. There is an opportunity for platforms like Yammer & Socialcast or Brainpark to bridge the structured with the informal. Three smaller pieces loosely joined seems to be a better approach for collaborative work/learning at this time rather than a unified platform. That may change as collaboration technologies mature but for now any large organization should be looking at all three.

5 Responses to “Technologies for collaboration and cooperation”

  1. Gordon Svoboda

    Thank you for a great visual representation of four outcome areas and three grouping of tools in the relation to the outcome areas.

    I am wrestling with the upward flow from left to right. I am yet to be convinced that Personal Learning Networks is not also motivated by Goal-Orientation.

    Does Goal-Orientation equate with learning that is externally motivated learning Opportunity-Driven equate with internally motivated learning? If so, the visual becomes clearer to me. Although, I am still not sure the lines between Goal-oriented and Opportunity-drivem can always be so strictly drawn.

    Again, thank you for sharing the great representation and your thoughts about platforms now and to be developed.

  2. Harold Jarche

    Lilia’s original post is quite clear, in my mind:

    “Network [PLN] communication is more opportunity-based and informal. There is not much in terms of shared goals and recurrent conversations, the ties are weak or latent. However, there is enough connectivity and opportunities to communicate that result in cross-fertilisation and emergent ideas and practices.”

  3. Lore Reß

    Of course there is a difference between facebook and sharepoint, but in a open minded enterprise with a not restricted sharepoint-server, you can have the same informal “converation” as outside the company. I think it is absolutely not a question of tools but of mind and behaviour within a company.


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