Post‑Implementation Evaluation of Collaborative Technology: a Case Study in Business Education
Keywords:computer-supported collaborative learning, CSCL, videoconferencing, collaborative technology, CT, business education, post-implementation evaluation, video-ethnography, case study
AbstractTo be successful in their future careers students need to develop diverse skills and qualifications. Firstly, in addition to understanding the course content and the underlying theories, students need to explore the implications that emerge from their practical application and develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. Secondly, students need to gain experience and confidence in working effectively within multidisciplinary and multicultural groups that mirror the situation they are likely to face in their future work environment. Thirdly, they need to familiarise themselves with collaborative technologies (CTs) since these are increasingly used in the workplace to facilitate communication and collaboration between distant co‑workers. To address these learning needs it is essential to incorporate CTs (such as videoconferencing systems) in the curriculum and provide well‑organized opportunities for students to gain hands‑on experience. Nevertheless, what technologies are used does not make the difference between motivated and unmotivated students; it is how these technologies are used that matters. Whilst innovative technologies can be fascinating, they must be properly evaluated and adjusted to specific educational, individual, and group needs in order to be successfully adopted by students. This evaluation entails taking into consideration the context within which the technology will be used (appropriateness evaluation) and the social‑psychological motives for user acceptance (evaluation of user satisfaction). This paper reports the findings from an interpretive case study in postgraduate business education where students were using a state‑of‑the‑art videoconferencing system as part of their workshops and group discussion sessions. This setting provided a suitable social milieu for post‑implementation evaluation of this collaborative technology. Qualitative methods were employed including participant observation, focus groups, and analysis of videoconferencing sessions captured on video. The findings indicate that computer‑supported collaborative learning (CSCL) helps students become confident with using CTs, learn best practices for communicating and collaborating effectively in technology‑mediated settings, and appreciate the impact that technology has on everyday social endeavours. The videoconferencing exercises also engaged students to actively participate in the learning process. Given the duality of technology presence (in educational and business contexts alike) the findings can inform the design of new pedagogical models that maximize the learning potential of CTs.
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