More on Collaboration Tools–Forums or Project spaces?

Just a quickie entry …

Scanning cyberspace for any evaluations of Sakai and/or the role of discussion forums in promoting collaborative writing, I found these comparisons of various open source CMSs:

An Evaluation of Open Source Learning Management Systems According to Learners Tools
Hüseyin Uzunboylu, Fezile Özdamlı, and Zehra Özçınar (2006).

3.2 Student Community Building
Atutor: Students can create study groups. Students from different courses can interaction system wide
using shared discussion forums.
Bazaar: The system allow user to create collaborative spaces for students.
Bodington: The system allows users to control access to certain areas and documents. It lets user create
usernames for external collaborators working on projects. Committees can create their own private areas
to hold minutes prior to publication.
Claroline: Teacher can create study groups. Once uploaded there, their documents can be published to
the public area of the course website.
Coursemanager: The system does not allow to users to create any type of group.
ILIAS: Students can send e-mail to their groups, use a shared chat space and notice board, and share
material privately within the group.
Moodle: Moodle has a large and diverse user community on main site.
Sakai: Students can create project sites. It includes a calendar, announcements, e-mail list and discussion

My first reaction to this was dismay that I hadn’t thought of exploring Sakai’s project-space capabilities in my current course or invited students to create their own project spaces, especially since these spaces can be made accessible to any course participants.  On the other hand, the project spaces are fairly limited.  They let you do what it says above:  upload files, send messages and announcements, and in the case of Learn, present a “slide show”– a tool I cannot for the life of me figure out!! I understand could be very cool, allowing participants to display visuals to the entire site.

However, a creator can’t add any other Sakai/Learn tools such as a wiki, and project members would still have to go “off Learn” to do anything fancy like collaborative writing.  Also, given that my “not so secret” agenda behind creating open team forums was to make it easy for everyone to view each others’ process and best practices–i.e. share knowledge–then I’m not sure whether or how setting up team project spaces would have been an advantage.

Or perhaps I’m just rationalizing my initial oversight! 


1 Comment

Filed under Online Learning

One response to “More on Collaboration Tools–Forums or Project spaces?

  1. Anonymous

    Project Spaces
    Hi Amanda,
    I’ve overlooked using project spaces within CMS platforms before, mostly because I find them relatively limited in functionality. In some courses, such project spaces are working quite well for both collaborative projects that are public to all of the students in the course. The embedded discussion forums within the space are convenient because they allow both private collaboration or public discussion around a presented piece of content authored by the students. In other courses, these spaces are being used to support portfolio processes and reflection. Students seem to prefer such a space over more dedicated portfolio tools because they can determine the structure they want to use without having to work within a set template or structure for an entry.
    Considering that Sakai does allow for wiki like spaces to be set up, it is a shame that the tool is not extended for students to use from within their own project space. But, is is possible for students to create a new page within the wiki in Sakai? Could they then link to that and achieve the same effect?

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