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Student reflections on collaborative technology in a globally distributed student project.

McDermott, Roger; Daniels, Mats; Cajander, Åsa; Cullhed, Mats; Clear, Tony; Laxer, Cary


Roger McDermott

Mats Daniels

Åsa Cajander

Mats Cullhed

Tony Clear

Cary Laxer


Collaborative Technology (CT) plays an important role in overcoming the challenges of globally distributed projects. It enables collaboration, but the specific choice of technology also imposes constraints on how projects are conducted. Over the past decade, we have engaged in an action research programme to develop an Open-Ended Group Project situated in an educational framework in which international collaboration, including interaction with a real world client, is an essential component. This paper investigates the manner in which students reflected on their patterns of CT use within the collaborative setting. In general, these reflections were found to be superficial and descriptive, exhibiting a reductive view of CT as a set of technological features, which acted as a neutral medium for communication and participation. One consequence of this was a lack of awareness of the ways in which the technology influenced the behaviour of individual students or the collaborative nature of the group. We explore some potential causes for this and reflect on some difficulties faced by the students. These have important pedagogical implications for courses in which the learning objectives include the development of suitable competencies for working in a global collaborative environment.

Start Date Oct 3, 2012
Publication Date Feb 19, 2013
Print ISSN 0190-5848
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Article Number 6462410
Series ISSN 0190-5848
ISBN 9781467313537
Institution Citation MCDERMOTT, R., DANIELS, M., CAJANDER, A., CULLHED, M., CLEAR, T. and LAXER, C. 2012. Student reflections on collaborative technology in a globally distributed student project. In Proceedings of the 2012 Frontiers in education conference (FIE 2012): soaring to new heights in engineering education, 3-6 October 2012, Seattle, USA. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE [online], article number 6462410. Available from:
Keywords Reflections; Collaborative technology; Open-ended group projects; Global collaboration; Scaffolding


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