The reality of virtual teamwork

Virtual classrooms and social media can help to create realistic working environments and enhance creative collaboration. Leaders in the field are producing applications and cloud-based learning environments that provide an educational advantage, allowing students to produce collaborative projects and interact with experts in virtual classrooms. But how do virtual learning environments compare to the real thing?


With several sessions outlining the theory as well as the practice of collaborative learning and virtual teamwork, ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2012 evaluates the success of these technologies and asks how they will change the educational landscape.


By Matthew Labrooy


Training or research facilities are location dependent and often only accessible to those in an immediate geographical location. Additionally, some training and research, for example for emergency personnel and environmental disaster teams, can require the development of complex simulated environments that are very costly or impossible to arrange.


In a session entitled ‘Collaboration at a Large Scale’, Ali Arya will present the results of his project which aims to produce a virtual space (or three-dimensional virtual environment) that allows students to interact with professionals and experts, who, due to time or geographical constraints, would otherwise be unavailable and their experience unobtainable.


Arya’s project uses 3D virtual environment technology to improve the educational experience and create simulations of these situations that enable experts to transfer individually-held knowledge and share their rich firsthand experience, which in the past required face-to-face interaction. This presentation, which is entitled ‘Using 3D Virtual Environments for Education: Advantages and Potentials of a New Educational Paradigm’, will not only share the latest findings but will also examine the potential impact on future learning methods which have not yet been widely discussed.


Another presentation which will explore collaboration and virtual teamwork is that of Gisle Johnsen, who will present the findings of the project ‘Teaching Music Based on the Relational Aesthetics Using Interactive Mobile-technology, Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing’ in the session entitled ‘Collaborative Learning and Creative Collaboration’. The aim of Johnsen’s project has been to allow students to collaboratively produce music and learn to play instruments online, using virtual classrooms and cloud computing.


Through this project they have designed mobile web-based applications that enable students to work with a piece of pre-recorded or composed music, using their smartphones, tablets or the web, and recompose, record and add their own instrumental or vocal parts to the pre-recorded music. Once produced, the students are able to share their work with their friends and peers via social media, allowing them to comment and critique each other’s work.


The initial results have shown that the students were more engaged in their music production and spent more time on their individual projects. The project also helped to broaden the students’ learning environment by taking away the distinction between school and leisure activities.


The issue of creative collaboration will also be explored in fellow session speaker Dr Sarah Eagle’s presentation ‘In Search of Tools to Support the Development of Creative Collaboration’. This interactive presentation will explore how social media and mobile technologies can effectively enhance creative collaboration.


Eagle’s presentation will examine the link between collaborative learning and creativity, outline how to develop and evaluate collaborative virtual spaces and discuss how social media and mobile technologies can effectively enhance creative collaboration.


This presentation will be supported by practical examples that illustrate and divulge the more academic and conceptual side of virtual collaboration. Participants will be introduced to academic literature on creativity and collaboration, and are invited to share their experiences of virtual teamwork in this interactive session.



‘Collaboration at a Large Scale’ will take place on Friday November 30th from 14.15 – 16.00 in room Charlottenburg I.


‘Collaborative Learning and Creative Collaboration’ will take place on Friday November 30th from 14.15 – 16.00 in room Schöneberg.


For more information on these ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN sessions exploring collaboration and virtual teamwork, as well as the full programme and list of speakers, please click here.

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