What are Collaborative Environments?

Collaborative environments are online spaces — often cloud-based — where the focus is making it easy to collaborate and work in groups, no matter where the participants may be. As the typical educator’s network of contacts has grown to include colleagues who might live and work across the country, or indeed anywhere on the globe, it has become common for people who are not physically located near each other to collaborate on projects. In classrooms as well, joint projects with students at other schools or in other countries are more and more commonplace as strategies to expose learners to a variety of perspectives. The essential attribute of the technologies in this set is that they make it easy for people to share interests and ideas and easily monitor collective progress. These tools are compelling and widely adopted because they are not only easy to use, but they are also either very low cost or free, and easily available via a web browser.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Wider community engagement through online collaboration, whether it be for teaching or for making. - dhegley dhegley Oct 31, 2014
  • Another perspective here.
  • Perhaps the significant impact of collaborative environment is moving toward global and reducing travel budgets. It's faster way of communicating and collaborating with groups.- luannel luannel Nov 3, 2014
  • I am finding collaborative environments, Google hangout, docs, etc, useful in conducting a two-year artist-in-residence project. It isn't a transformational thing, but it does help bridge the gap between trips. As for the comment below about a waste of time, well, meatspace meetings are often/mostly that, too, if they are not well moderated and planned. That's a people problem, not the technology's fault.- weberj weberj Nov 3, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014
  • I'm part of an interpretive planners group that uses Google hangouts, Google docs, etc. for the vast majority of our interaction. I agree that it isn't transformational, but with members of the group spread from coast to coast it does provide the opportunity for contact, discussion, and to keep the momentum between in-person meetings. - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014
  • To build innovative partnerships with content providers (museums and arts institutions), audiences (schools, communities), and businesses that bridge professional development, outreach and education. - david david Nov 8, 2014david

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Not particularly innovative as far as toolsets go, but perhaps the issue here is less about technology than about best practices and iterative learning? I've certainly been on countless Google Hangout calls that purport to be for collaboration, but instead are free-for-alls lacking firm agendas and often lacking defined leadership - ultimately a waste of everyone's time. I would recommend that this topic be more about practice than technology per se. - dhegley dhegley Oct 31, 2014
  • I agree with the above comment. It's as much about media presentation and good content as it is about the technology. - croyston croyston Nov 1, 2014
  • It's essential for museums to maintain channels of communication if such initiative is put together. Things to consier before implementing Collaborative Environments. There should be a plan in place for how museums will use collaborative tools. - luannel luannel Nov 3, 2014
  • Agree with all of the comments here - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014
  • I think that the most important thing is about presenting good content and flexibility. Technologies change so quickly that it is difficult to keep up and continuously develop tools and platforms. Good content will transcend and engage. Also, I think that adapting an agile development process can help museums to adapt and develop content that addresses new technologies. - david david Nov 8, 2014david

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • IF we could develop strong shared practice, there might be a path forward for using these simple technologies to more-effectively engage distant audiences. I've been impressed by what the MacPhail Center for Music has done with it's distance learning and live online lessons. Museums might look closely at this approach, which has been quite successful. http://www.macphail.org/OFFERINGS/ONLINE-LESSONS - dhegley dhegley Oct 31, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014
  • The importance of these new communication tools continue to grow. Museums could collaborate on projects and share insights and documents. It's more streamlined and flexible, achieving greater efficiency because of easier access to wide information and knowledge.- luannel luannel Nov 3, 2014
  • I agree with the two previous comments- using accessible technologies can help museums and arts institutions on multiple levels. Sharing content and insights helps professional development, resource sharing (content and financial), increased educational opportunities to a wider, more diverse audience. - david david Nov 8, 2014David

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The Phillips teacher arts integration framework is available digitally and provides a forum for teachers to share and discuss ways to integrate art into the classroom. Currently in beta:http://teachers.phillipscollection.org/forum- mcollerd mcollerd Oct 29, 2014
  • See MacPhail project, above. - dhegley dhegley Oct 31, 2014
  • Another perspective here.
  • Many businesses implement this as well such as PulseNet- a national laboratory network.- luannel luannel Nov 3, 2014
  • I am currently writing my EdD dissertation in learning technologies. My thesis is a feasibility study on identifying accessible technologies that can be used to create innovative collaborations between arts institutions and schools for providing year-round arts education to underserved urban and rural communities. My interest in this started while doing my MA in 2006-7, and I have continued to investigate.

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