Selecting a set of tools appropriate to your needs depends greatly upon aligning the:
- Context and purpose of the collaboration,
- Needs of the learner / participants wishing to collaborate.
- Capability of the tool,
- Intuitive design of the tools to ensure it is easy to use, regardless of the users’ experience or knowledge,
- Flexibility of the tool to enable a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Capacity to work across a range of devices.
NB: All digital tools experience connectivity problems from time to time, therefore you always need a Plan B if your use of a tool is time sensitive, such as a meeting or classroom lesson.
Supporting the use of collaborative tools
The successful use of any new set of tools is also connected to some form of support system. Support can involve:
- technical or trouble shooting advice and / or
- connection to a learning community focused on the better use of the tool.
Just as the tools of collaboration are changing, so too is the nature of support. It is important not to confuse centrally managed or central permission to use a tool with a centrally delivered support system. This is because most commercially available collaborative tools provide their own technical support systems and connection to a learning community.
Questions to ask when selecting a collaborative tool
Does the collaborative tool:
- Have the features you want for the required task/s?
- Enable any learner to use it irrespective of the personalised settings on their device? Eg; Does it work with a screenreader, switch access etc.
- Allow authentication using your Department Portal ID?
- Securely manage login and account user information?
- Integrate with other collaborative tools?
- Work across a range of devices and platforms? (eg:PC/Mac laptops, iOS and Google mobile devices)
- Connect to a support system?
- Include a specific area or version for use by students
- Enable the content / resource to be easily shared / exported to another program?