One of the key developments that will be occurring over the summer will be the migration of the student emails system to Microsoft Live. Not only will this mean that the students will have access to a live account they will also benefit from the other cloud services that Mircrosoft have to offer. The member of staff will however not be migrating to this system in the summer but will be supporting the students. I wanted to create some learning material that would support the staff in this transition so that when the students come with questions about the services that are available to them the academic members of staff will be able to advise them in their learning.
I have decided therefore to give the faculty an introduction to The Cloud and what it can do for them. Even though they will not be migrated (as a cooperation) over to this service they are still able to sign up for these free services and use them. I consequently want to give the members of staff an impartial introduction to some of the cloud services that could be used in and academic way, including collaborative online working and document backup.
To support my training that I will device I have created a one-page work sheet that would summery of all of the services, their functions and advice on how they should be used effectively and safely. I wasn’t going to rely on my own knowledge to create such a document but rather resource the entire learning technologist brainpower to help with the creation.
I created a first draft, a framework for everyone to start on and then uploaded it to Google Docs. I then invited members of The University Learning Technologists team to the document and gave them write permissions. My expectations that over the week during their busy schedules that whey would dip into the document have a look post comments and perhaps make changes. By the end of which I would have a suitable document that could be distributed.
I was rather surprised that within 20 minutes of inviting people to my document I had 5 people all collaborating on the document simultaneously, some correcting spelling and grammar, some providing comments and some challenging the appropriateness of the material for the intended audience. All in all it was a hive of activity, so much so I decided to screen capture the event so that I could show it to the academics to show how collaborative online working works in reality.
This video has been compressed from 30minutes down to 2 and then captured via Jing
In the video you can see that all of the contributors are listed in the top right hand corner with a coloured boxed assigned to their name. The colour that was assigned to their name was represented on the document by the same colour cursor; hence as the document was being edited al participants could see who was making what changes to which sections. Underneath the participants there is a chat window that allows the participant to have a running commentary on the work, and this does not effect the document in anyway once the participant has left the commentary is lost. And in the centre section is the document itself and comments can be made to this, which remains until one of the editors removes them.
I then downloaded the file to make final adjustments such as add a footer and crop one of the image both of which I was un able to do in the in browser editor.
I felt I have learned first hand on the powerful nature of the online collaborative working and surprised at how quickly people were willing to engage with it and contribute. I understand that these are all learning technologists and can’t expect the same type of results that I have seen here from academic or students. That I why I decided to create my one page guide as platform neutral display and describing as many different options allowing for the reader to make their own choice on what method if any best suits their needs and the needs of their students. I really hope that I have good engagement with this, as I believe that this can really enhance the learning experience of user who can use this to create group work.
I recall when I was studying at University working on a piece of group work the amount of emails that would be sent with different versions of the document, or my group members writing sections and having to compile it all at the end, used to be such a time consuming task.
The one thing that I want to get out of the training that I provide to the academic is a sense of empowerment that they can go away and tell their students that there are all these tools out there that can be utilised in such effective ways.
Link to final document: What is the Cloud
Youtube video: Google Docs in plain English