Enabling Collaboration in a Virtual Environment

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Digital technologies and communications have multiplied opportunities for transforming the way we teach and learn by breaking down silos across borders, supporting 24/7 styles of learning, and promoting collaboration which boosts student engagement and creativity. However, a key challenge for those introducing collaborative technologies into a teaching and learning environment is that technology does not by itself ensure that users will collaborate. This paper seeks to provide new insights into the key enablers and restrainers of effective collaboration in a networked environment. To do so, it draws on a five-year Participatory Action Research study of the development and adaptation of a content management system for use by media students at RMIT University in virtual and face to face production projects. The paper’s particular focuses are the four key variables to successful collaboration that emerged during the study: trust, shared vision, technology and boundary objects.