Term Paper: Online Collaboration: How and Why?

Pages: 10 (2659 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] An avalanche choice of software could frustrate users while choosing the most appropriate ones for the conference, mostly based on web.

Woolley shows that in choosing good software, it is necessary to consider these points:

a. Groupware

Software that is aimed for groupware is usually aimed for workgroup collaboration and it does not involve conversation. Usually there are many features involved for this software but rather unsuitable to support public forum

b. Forum oriented

Forum interaction-based software is designed for interactive meeting but usually are highly priced. It is important that the company make the right decision before employing the right one.

According to Berst (1999) web conferencing softwares usually include some basic features like Present PowerPoint slides, ability to engage in email-like messaging and real-time questions and answers, and ability to deliver streaming audio and video (well, sort of...)

A proper hardware is certainly required to enable the fast connection. Berst shows that at least a 300 MHz computer is required with a late model browser and fast connection, higher bandwidth using cable modem or DSL, rather than dial-up. Real web conferencing requires video that demands for high-bandwidth.

For sample situations, a guidance is provided:

1. Small group, low interaction:

Participants will be involved in 10 or less presentations, which is necessary to find a kind of simple product such as Webline

2. Small group, high interaction:

This application works for up to 50 people, a more complicated group to manage where it needs a moderator to conduct the discussion. The example of the product is PlaceWare.

3. Small broadcast, low interaction:

Berst recommends this for a big conference, which will involve up to 100, in such questions like "one-to-many situation"; for example for a financial analysts giving report, where people most likely will asks questions (but not too many) to the presenter. Software like WebEx and Netpodium are satisfying to facilitate such meetings.

Web conferencing also sometimes is not the best choice to take when such pitfalls occur, like if the hardware does not support much. If the connection is too slow and there are too many people involved, who would enjoy having the conference?

Web conferencing could also be very uncomfortable if the presentation involves some big data that requires longer time to download or to play. This could be like a kind of fashion show presentation or music concert. It will require a very high broadband that is still insufficien right now. Audio and real time video is also difficult to conduct through web conferencing.

While conferencing is the most obvious solution to work out, online collaboration certainly does not stop there Miller (1999) shows how online collaboration can be used to establish virtual office.

Mostly people just find online collaboration now in small team within the office or collaboration with other departments. The projects that need to be handled is about exchanging files and email and setting a database in order to easily monitor what progress has been going.

It would be a great choice to set a web-based virtual office where people could establish a center to collaborate within the project together. It could be necessary for the company to hire a web-based server that is project centered and later follow with related activities such as "document sharing, project management, task tracking, discussion forums, calendars and real-time communication capabilities."

As a thrilling new choice, virtual offices can be described into two categories: services like HotOffice and InTandem, where the companies fined possibility to establish corporate portal or intranet. This system has advantages where it acts as the whole infrastructure and giving room for the company to work both in every project they are working on, or as the whole basis of the company activities and database. Here employees can interact, post projects and progress, as well as monitor the quality and duantity of the result going along.

The other one in services like eRoom and Lotus QuickPlace, where works will be based on projects. With the solution, the eam can work together without establishing their own infrastructure.

3. Online Collaboration and Its Flaws

Despite the effectiveness gained by applying online collaboration, a wrong approach on the application does not bring any advantages to the company but only cutting employee's productivity.

According to Levitt, company needs to specify what tools to use and how they expect the employee to use them. There are a lot of choices in web conferencing software that if not selected carefully will confuse the users. A company can use one or two appropriate softwares meeting their needs to achieve the desired level of result from the synchronized combination of the selected softwares.

To find out how a kind of tool is appropriate, the company should consider "integration" and "appropriate use" factors. In integration, the tool has to fulfill the need of "connecting and embedding application functionality and content in ways that can span multiple interfaces and content repositories." Connecting product will comply the applications from the content sources. This integration is necessary so that the end users will be supported in any aspects including less administrative burdens. Furthermore, "appropriate use" factor requires end users to determine the most appropriate interface for particular tasks and they also need to supply the system with supporting content and functionality. To achieve this level of understanding, end users need corporate trainings to make the most of it.

Appendix:

Software for Use in Online Collaboration:

Woolley had put online collaboration software based on the categories:

1. Centralized Forum

In Centralized forum, one computer is the base of data storage accepting incoming messages. This is the old version of collaboration software.

Examples of WELL-style Web conferencing software include:

Backtalk, Caucus, COW, Motet, Web Crossing

Examples of other centralized forum software for the Web include:

Allaire Forums, Big Mouth Lion, HyperNews, NetForum, Podium

2. Groupware

Usually powerful and complex, to be used by companies in workgroups, as conversation is less important than efficient work flow. Examples: InTandem, Livelink, LotusDomino.

3. Bulletin Boards

Bulletin Boards take messages as individual messages that is not related to each other. Examples: Spinnaker, Weblink.

5. Mailing List

This is a convenient email-based messages that is easy to apply and reach many users at a time. Example: Hypermail.

Bibliography:

Berst, Jesse. Oct 11, 1999. How to Use the Web for Meetings. ZDNet. http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/story/story_3959.html . (Apr 11, 2002).

Laiserin, Jerry. Dec, 2000. The Pre-History of Internet Collaboration. Cadence Channel. http://www.cadenceweb.com/2000/1200/collaboration1200.html. (Apr 11, 2002).

Levitt, Mark. Jan 2002. Warning: Collaboration Can be Harmful to Your Employees' Productivity Unless Used Properly. Doc #VWP000083. http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jhtml?containerId=VWP000083. (Apr 11, 2002).

Miller, Michael J. Oct 11, 1999. How to Build Offices Without Walls Today. PC Magazine. http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/story/story_3960.html. (Apr 11, 2002).

Mitchell, Lori. Aug 23, 1999. Make Virtual Meetings a Reality: Test Center Analysis. InfoWorld Test Center Analysis. InfoWorld. http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayTC.pl?/990823analysis.htm. (Apr 11, 2002)

Woolley, David R. 1996. Choosing Web Conferencing Software. Thinkofit… [END OF PREVIEW]

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