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Wednesday, July 29 • 13:31 - 15:00
"Emerging Technologies that drive online collaboration"

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Authors: Rebecca HogueJeffrey M Keefer, Lenandlar Singh, Ron Leunissen, Apostolos Koutropoulos, Sarah Honeychurch, Keith Hamon and Maha Bal

Technologies are constantly changing. In recent years, we have seen disruption in education caused by mobile and cloud technologies (Johnson et al., 2014). These new technologies are making it possible for scholars to collaborate in new ways. The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Education suggests that one of the long term trends in higher education is increased cross-institution collaboration (Johnson et al, 2015, p.10). One of the challenges that prevent increased collaboration is the near-term need for increased digital literacies. Several groups of scholars associated with the 2014 Rhizomatic Learning MOOC (Cormier, 2014) have demonstrated successful cross-institutional and cross-cultural collaboration in the form of collaborative academic papers and conference presentations. 

The purpose of this exploratory study is to examine the ways in which various subgroups of the #rhizo14 & #rhizo15 communities have collaborated across countries, continents, cultures, and institutions to create academic papers and conference presentations. 

This study uses the lens of actor network theory (ANT) to examine collaborations and the technologies that best support them. ANT is a means by which to examine the multiplicity of ties within a network and attempt to make sense of the “difficult ambivalences, messy objects, multiple overlapping worlds and apparent contradictions that are embedded in so many educational issues” (Fenwick and Edwards,2010). Here we use it as a way of dissecting and describing how different technologies influenced our collaborations and our community. The study begins with a mapping out of collaborations each of the authors participated in. We then use collaborative technologies (e.g. Google Docs, Google Hangouts, & Email) to further explore the technologies that enabled or disabled our collaborations (not all attempts at using technologies was successful). This collaboration itself becomes a collaborative lens that is included in the study. 

Our initial explorations indicate the following technologies were used (or attempted) to help enable collaboration. The tools themselves can be categorized based upon what their primary purpose is:

(1) Group communication: Google Hangout, Email, Twitter, Facebook Groups, Doodle
(2) Paper & Presentation generation: Google Docs, Google Slides, Prezi, VoiceThread, Blogs
(3) Information management: Google Drive, Google Sheets
(4) Physical devices: Mac Laptop, PC Laptop, iPad, Nexus Tablet, iPhone, Android Phone

In addition, many of the authors used personal blogs as a platform for discussion (Bali, 2015; Hamon, 2015a; Hamon, 2015b; Honeychurch, 2015; Keefer, 2015a; Keefer, 2015b; Koutropoulos, 2015; Singh, 2015). Given the limited time, we will focus our presentation on three technologies - Facebook Groups, Google Docs, and Email.
Each technology affords different ways of communicating, and as such very different modes of interaction. Over time, we negotiated ‘norms’ about which technology to use for which type of communication. In addition, some of the technologies became limiting as collaborators with limited bandwidth were not able to fully contribute. For example, when video was added to collaborations, some collaborators were not comfortable or not able to participate fully (Bali & Meier, 2014).

The social media technologies (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus) have created an overlap between our professional and private lives. This overlap has allowed us to become more connected, learning about different aspects of each other, more personal aspects, which then enables us to connect on a different level that goes beyond being purely colleagues. 
In addition, the nature of these participatory technologies means that we are collaborating on a more intense level. It becomes a lot easier for edits to be made and words to intermix to the point that no one person can know who wrote what. Words that begin as a contribution by one person are melded together to become contributions of the collective.

Future Work: 
This study is a work-in-progress. The co-authors of this study have worked on numerous collaborative projects over the last year, each of these are being examined to help us better understand the ways technology enables us to better collaborate as cross cultural scholars. 
With all emerging technology studies, the work never has an ending. As new technologies emerge and existing technologies improve, there are new opportunities to explore how they might enable better collaboration.


Bali, M. (2015, May 11). Google docs collaborations: An amateur attempt to apply ANT analysis. [Weblog] Retrieved from: http://blog.mahabali.me/blog/educational-technology-2/google-docs-collaborations-an-amateur-attempt-to-apply-ant-analysis/
Bali, M., and Meier, B. (March 4, 2014). An Affinity for Asynchronous Learning. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/affinity-asynchronous-learning/
Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-Network Theory in Education. New York.: Taylor & Francis Group. 

Hamon (May 18, 2015a) ANT via Dudhwala: #rhizo15.[weblog] Retrieved from http://idst-2215.blogspot.com/2015/05/ant-via-dudhwala-rhizo15.html  
Hamon (May 25, 2015b) How Does rhizoANT Work? [weblog] Retrieved from http://idst-2215.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-does-rhizoant-work.html
Honeychurch, S. (May 23, 2015) Google Docs and ANT [weblog] http://www.nomadwarmachine.co.uk/2015/05/23/google-docs-and-ant/

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. 

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman. (2014). The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. 

Keefer, J. M. (2015a, May 23). A Rhizomatic ANT In Germany [weblog]. Retrieved from: http://silenceandvoice.com/2015/05/23/a-rhizomatic-ant-in-germany/

Keefer, J. M. (2015b, May 25). Using Google via a German Actor-Network [weblog]. Retrieved from: http://silenceandvoice.com/2015/05/25/using-google-via-a-german-actor-

Koutropoulos, A. (2015, May 22, 2015). Swarn the Google Doc, or so says the ANT [weblog]. Retrieved from: http://idstuff.blogspot.com/2015/05/swarn-google-doc-or-so-says-ant.html
Singh, L. (2015, May 24). Actor-Network Theory and Google docs [Web log post]. Retrieved from: https://idleclicks.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/actor-network-theory-and-google-docs/

avatar for Maha Bali

Maha Bali

Associate Professor of Practice, American University Cairo
I'm a MOOCaholic and writeaholic, passionate about open, connected learning. Co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org (join us during #dlrn) and edcontexts.org) write for us!) and columnist/editor at Hybrid Pedagogy (you probably already know us)
avatar for Rebecca Hogue

Rebecca Hogue

PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa
I’m Rebecca J Hogue (@rjhogue). I’m a blogger (http://rjhogue.name, http://bcbecky.com, and http://goingeast.ca), a scholar, an educator, and aspiring writer. I'm a PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Boston... Read More →

Sarah Honeychurch

University of Glasgow
avatar for Jeffrey M. Keefer

Jeffrey M. Keefer

Director of Training & Knowledge Management (Urban Parks) + Educational Researcher + Professor, New York University & The Trust for Public Land
Director of Training & Knowledge Management (Urban Parks) + Educational Researcher + Professor = Actor-Network Theory + Liminality + Connected Learning

Apostolos Koutropoulos

EdD Candidate & Online Program Manager, University of Massachusetts - Boston

Wednesday July 29, 2015 13:31 - 15:00
(7th Floor) Room TRS1-129 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

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