Integrating groupware technology into the learning environment

Abdul Naeem Shaikh, Linda Macaulay
2001 Research in Learning Technology  
This paper presents the hard lessons learned from the introduction of groupware technology within a final-year software engineering module. The module began in 1997 and is now in its fourth year. The paper provides a detailed account of our successes and failures in each year, and describes what the authors now feel is a successful model for integrating groupware into the learning environment. The paper is important because it provides a longitudinal study of the use of groupware within a
more » ... ng environment and an insight into the key success factors associated with the use of groupware. Success factors relate not only to the technology but also to social factors such as group facilitation and social protocols, to factors associated with monitoring and assessment, and to factors related to the skills development associated with being a member of a global team. 1998); that is, synchronous-local (meeting using shared drawing tools), synchronousremote (using video-conferencing), asynchronous-local (using co-ordination tools such as Lotus Notes), and asynchronous-remote (using email, bulletin board, and Web technologies). The practical work consisted of a series of software engineering tasks carried out using groupware tools. Each part consisted of lectures, seminars, practical work, assessment and feedback. The aims of the module were: 1. to expose students to the practical usage of groupware technologies, representative of those which support each of the four situations; 2. to educate students about the technological, organizational and social issues associated with the application of groupware; 3. to encourage students to consider the role of CSCW (groupware) within software engineering. The objectives were that, at the end of the module, the student should be able: 1. to compare and contrast groupware technologies; 2. to select appropriate groupware technologies, depending on the social and organizational context; 3. to evaluate their experiences of using groupware technologies; 4. to explain the issues associated with groupware use, in terms of setting and adopting work protocols; 5. to acquire the skills that are required for effective group collaboration and communication; 6. to assess the relevance of groupware support to software engineering activities. Case studies This section describes an in-depth investigation of the use of groupware with the final-year software engineering students for specific software engineering activities. It covers three case studies of the module from 1997 to 1999. The first sub-section describes the methodology adopted by the authors for the investigation. The second briefly presents the objectives of the different groupware tools being used during the module. The next three sub-sections cover the themselves, each describing the context, the evaluation instruments used and the evaluation results. Methodology According to Almstrum (1996) : The introduction of new technologies increases the importance of evaluation in order to untangle the snarl of factors and influences that impinge on how technology is used in
doi:10.1080/0968776010090206 fatcat:6xww5q5jsrcdnancfce5gm4gqi