We’re currently working on a research project looking at team-based learning, the methodologies used to support this type of learning and the technologies that are put in place to aid collaboration.
One of the first stages in this study has been to ask students which technologies they feel have been the most useful for communicating and working with their team. Although the initial results have not been incredibly surprising it has provided us with a starting point from which to ask students why they choose the tools they do and to look at the strengths and weaknesses of them. A total of 48 students were surveyed, with 40 students providing a response to this question.
16% of students mentioned software such as Perforce or Hansoft. Due to the nature of the courses that the students are on (Games Design, Business entrepreuneurship) it was expected that version control software and software to support an Agile working methodology would be included.
By far the most commented on and used technologies were Facebook (45%) and Google Drive/docs (40%). Students had set up their own groups and shared folders through which to collaborate on documents and communicate with their team. We had predicted that Facebook would be used by many of the students due to comments from teaching staff when setting up this project.The use of Google drive for collaborative work was less expected but pleasing. It showed students were creating truly collaborative documents and understood the need for this type of tool.
Skype also featured in the survey, with 25% of students naming it as a useful technology to support communication with many using this to keep dialogue active during the breaks between semesters.
Disappointingly there were no responses that indicated students used the VLE to assist or enable collaboration. We now want to investigate if this is a result of students preferring different tools or the teaching staff not promoting or setting up their VLE space for students to use it in this way.
This is just a snapshot of our initial findings and we intend to delve deeper into how students choose the tools they use and how they may be influenced by academic staff. We are also keen to see if students feel there are any gaps in provision not fulfilled by the technologies they currently use and whether this is something as a team we can help provide either from within the institution or with guided to support to external resources.