Posts Tagged ‘scaleable’

Whiteboards can be used for collaboration or shared discussion work. A group of four or five students gather (or huddle) round to develop ideas. There are ways of capturing this work, placing copycams around the place to take an image of the whiteboard and upload it onto a web location for retrieval tends to be the institutional approach. A quicker way I’ve found is to use a smartphone to take an image and upload the image directly onto a photosharing site using Shozu.

This is good in small teaching rooms for small groups. But does it scaleable? And is it affordable?

Well I think a viable, free alternative has just evolved, and it’s called EtherPad. What EtherPad allows you to do is to simultaneously edit text online as a group, see the screencast. This means that groups can collaborate online in real time, pitching in ideas, but with the advantage of having a useful ‘document’ at the end, which can be accessed from anywhere, re-edited or cut and pasted elsewhere if required. Much more useful than just an image.

With student laptops in lecture theatres this services could be used to introduce effective small group work within a large group setting. Also, there is no requirement to have an expensive AV system installed for the lecturer to be able to display work from different groups. Instead, the lecturer can just use the lecturn PC to display the work of different groups via a web browser, provided s/he has the relevant URLs. Again, this is an example of scaling up a facility that is only usually available in expensive technology rich small group working rooms.

There are additional advantages. Groups where members are physically remote can still easily collaborate in realtime.

But doesn’t Google Docs do this already? The answer is no, not in realtime. “EtherPad lets multiple people work on the same text simultaneously”


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