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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Measuring Collaboration in Online Communication

Measuring Collaboration in Online Communication
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Author(s): Albert L. Ingram (Kent State University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 5
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch403


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Collaboration has become a key concept in the workplace, in research laboratories, and in educational settings. Companies want members of different departments located far apart to work together. Various government agencies try to establish collaborative relationships with private organizations. Academics and corporate researchers collaborate with far-flung colleagues to produce new knowledge. Students at all levels of our educational system are increasingly being asked to learn collaboratively. In addition, more work is being done online. Businesses communicate over the Internet, and increasing numbers of educational experiences are being delivered at a distance. Virtual high schools, traditional and for-profit distance education institutions, and colleges and universities are all among the current users of the Internet in education. In all of these situations—educational and non-educational, face-to-face, and online—several questions need to be addressed. First, what is collaboration? The word is sometimes used as if everyone already understands what it means, but we can find a variety of different definitions in the literature. Second, when we form groups to collaborate, how do we know when they have done so? Is it possible to measure the extent to which collaboration has occurred in a given group and setting? Third, what actions and conditions enhance the collaboration that does take place? And finally, does collaboration work? That is, do groups that are more collaborative produce better results or learning than groups that are less collaborative? This brief article will not attempt to answer all these questions, but it will concentrate on a specific issue: What methods can be used to determine whether, and how much, collaboration has occurred in online groups in various settings? We will explain our preferred definition of collaboration, based on previous research, and then discuss some of the implications of these ideas for online collaboration and for research into that issue.

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