Using digital tools to support collaboration

CSM My Digital Life Workshop, Tuesday 26 February 2013, CSM

GROUP 1: Using digital tools to support collaboration: Marie James, Caroline Truyol, Khin Tye, Shih-Yu You. The group used Tumblr to put their presentation together – it can be viewed here: The group also showed a short video:

Khin has created a great related blog post here too: 

Thanks to Mehreen Talpur who provided the following notes:

The breakout group wanted to discuss their own projects and what digital tools they might use to better connect, manage, and engage their collaborations.

Tatiana Alisova is part of 100WordPilgrimage, a collective of 20 + illustrators who connect remotely to develop projects and stage events. She noted that is can be difficult to establish who manages different elements of the collective and avoid overloading one person.

This was seen as a common problem – people can get lost on online/remote collaboration when things are left open, without clear deadlines and delegation.The MAIM students had researched several solutions, including Trello, a website that allows group collaborations and single view accessibility to Dropbox, YouTube, and other sites used for collaboration. It enables video conferencing, and includes a percentage meter that indicates how close a project is to completion. Its task management system is viewable to everyone, so you can clearly see what tasks have been assigned to you and when you need to complete them by. It offers a summary daily email that outlines all work completed, which especially benefits part-time students.

(This raised the issue of how time conscious part-time students feel, especially in comparison to full-time students – PT students feel that they have to be highly task oriented with the time they are allocated.)

Facebook collaboration is popular within courses, because it’s likely that many students have an account and are acquainted with how the tool works. Facebook’s read receipts and notifications are a great way to make sure team mates will view a message.

One participant was having difficulty managing a collaboration with a team of programmers based in Spain. He couldn’t connect with his team as they all spoke Spanish and were in the same room together. The group suggested making a video diary, or finding a point of connection so that both sides could get to know each other through their interests, likes/dislikes, different counties, etc.  MIT used icebreakers such as ‘show us what’s in your pockets’ to start a conversation and establish a human connection between everyone in the MA Textile Futures collaboration with MIT MediaLab.

In summary, remote collaboration benefits from:

– A task management system

– Agreeing on a project management or self managed system (people prefer self managed in remote connection situations)

– Time management for meetings, and agenda items to discuss during a video call.

– Smaller breakout groups in large video conferencing

– A sensory indicator, for when people want to interrupt or want to speak (no current system in play, although chats have little indications as do messages on Facebook that provide read receipts)

– Learning to see a working colleague as another fellow human being with struggles and challenges, and getting to know them on a human level.

– Physical interactions, which allow you to perceive people’s moods. The live and instantaneous feedback of some digital tools like video conferencing can make it difficult for people to appreciate the struggles or difficulties it took for attendees to make the meeting.

– Video diaries are a great way to show people your working process and evidence connectivity.


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