Thursday, 26 July 2012

Group Productivity and Collaboration Tools

The internet is useful in providing a platform for working in collaboration with other people and organizations.
Groupware refers broadly to social media software applications that facilitate the interactions of working groups. With groupware, group members can obtain, change and share knowledge within the group despite being geographically distributed and cannot have meetings physically.
There a wide variety of social media applications that can be used for group productivity and also collaboration. Some of them are described below:
  •   Emails
E-mail is the most basic and popular way to communicate over the Internet. It is useful because it works well in low and high bandwidth.
  •  Listserv
Listserv software allows groups of people to be easily connected together for discussions and information exchange.
  • Blogs
A blog is a tool that allows users to share access and easily update information, without having any knowledge of computer programming. Blog is an easy way to communicate knowledge. Other people can also comment from blogs making it more lively.
  • Micro blogging
Microblogging is a form of blogs but here it can be used to post short text updates via web browser, instant message, e-mail or mobile text messaging. It can be short updates like people’s status for example.
Twitter is a main service for microblogging.
  •    Video Sharing
Using the advent of digital cameras and mobile phone video cameras, people can use videos to document their work; share stories of practice; and get critical voices heard more broadly. Now people can even share videos online via YouTube which is the most popular video sharing website. Users can even upload, view, comment and rate short videos.
  •     Photo Sharing
There are also websites where uploading, editing, tagging, sharing and accessing digital photos and images are possible. For instance, Flickr is one of the most famous photo sharing website.

  •      Podcasting
Podcasts are audio programs that are broadcasted over the Internet. They are audio files (such as MP3) which can be downloaded to a compatible digital audio player or a computer. Users can create audio files using their computer, an audio recorder, or even some digital cameras and mobile phones, and post them to the web.

  •        Wikis
Wikis is a website which can be edited online using a browser. Wikis can be edited live. The administrator of a wiki can even specify who may view and edit the site. In addition, Wikis also include a powerful versioning system which tracks changes made to pages and stores previous versions, enabling administrators to revert to previous versions of pages. It is indeed an effective tool for collaboration and there is much interaction between users.

  •       Chats and instant messaging
Instant Messaging is one of the most popular applications on the web. It allows two or more people to exchange messages in real time, using a web or desktop application. A group of people can start a conversation online in a space commonly called a "chat room". IM can be used to send images while chatting, incorporates voice in the chat as well as exchanging animated icons. MSN is a common instant messaging application. 

  •      VOIP
VoIP allows people to make phone calls over the Internet instead of using the traditional telephone system. Users must have access to a microphone and speakers or headset connected to the computer. It also requires high-speed Internet access since the quality of the sound can be affected by the connection speed. One of the most popular programs to use VoIP is Skype. With Skype group conversations can be made.

  •     Project management tools
Project management tools include software for scheduling, managing budget and resources, following up on tasks and workflows, graphics and charts of the progress of the project and some communications and document sharing features. These tools can help support your distributed projects.

Current Issues and New Ideas

Social media services are constantly evolving and now many social media sites are adapting their tools for mobile use.
Today, the use of mobile phones is widespread. Mobile phones are becoming more and more sophisticated with very advanced features. There is also an increasing access to the internet on the phone. In many parts of the world, mobile phones are used to sustain development, delivering news as well as sharing of information. In the agricultural world for instance, extension officers can send SMS to farmers to inform them about market prices as well as inform them about occurrence of new pests and diseases.
Geotagging is another interesting aspect of social media. It involves adding geographical information to a content item.
Apart from that, many contents are available from different parts of the world. With the use of social media, translating the contents are made possible to make sure that interfaces and functionality are appropriate to different cultures and user groups. For example, some commercial services are localized or translated to other languages to attract users from many countries.
In the future as technology advances there might be another term known as web 3.0 which is eventually some aspects of the Internet that are potentially possible, but not yet feasible from a technical or practical perspective. From experts, the Web will be easier to use, more integrated with the real world, more intuitive and “smarter” in order to accommodate the user’s needs.
For example, users could spontaneously create their own networks, share information, communicate, send messages, etc.

Privacy, Intellectual Property and access to Social media

Social Networking Sites and Communities

Today, social Networking Sites are very popular and they allow people to create profiles, enabling them to find other people with common interests and consequently interact with them. For example, if a group of people with similar objectives and interests connect with each other via social networking sites, they can form communities and interact over time. Despite users being geographically distributed, they can even start building communities which act as a platform for sharing of ideas, information, etc.  People connected with other users are updated immediately about their activities.
In addition, users on social networking sites can even share digital photos with other connected people. They can also have real time conversations with other users in a chat room.
Indeed there are a wide range of Social Networking Sites with specific features and specifications. Like for instance, My Space and Facebook focus more on relationships while LinkedIn is more oriented towards professional networks.
However, using those social networks can also pose new challenges in terms of privacy and security. One has to be very careful in adjusting their privacy settings on those sites.

Introduction to web 2.0 and Social Media

From this lesson, I have learnt the basic concepts of web 2.0 tools and its uses.
Web 2.0 is another term for social media which are indeed powerful tools that can be used to share information and knowledge with other people online, communicate more effectively as well as collaborating online. For instance documents, photos, etc can be shared online and made them accessible to a wide community.
Moreover, social media allows users to Connect with other people via social networks. We can connect with people having same interests and objectives as us despite being geographically distributed. In this way, there is the possibility to create joint action and collaboration.
In addition, some of those social tools have the rating and commenting features that allow us to indicate if web content was useful or accurate for us. We can also re-use content from sites, change the content and make it in our own way. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity-My Personal Experience...

My personal experience as a participant in the web 2.0 Learning Workshop

The Awareness of web 2.0 tools:

Through this workshop, I had the opportunity to come across a wide range of web 2.0 tools that were indeed new discoveries to me....For instance, advanced google search, wikis, RSS feeds, igoogle, google alerts as well as blogging were all new to me...
The trainers explained to us the basics of web 2.0 tools and got the chance to learn those magic tools hands-on with practical examples...Had an enriching experience in getting acquainted with those tools. Learnt a lot of new things, however to enjoy them more, practicing them regularly is a crucial factor....

The Importance of web 2.0 tools:

As we progressed with the workshop, I found the real importance of web 2.0 tools. For example, the use of RSS Feeds is a tool whereby information of interest to us come to us directly (via google alerts or igoogle) without going to specific website each time. This saves us a lot of time!!!!
Moreover, I became aware that the use of web 2.0 tools such as blogging itself can be used to share ideas and also in the dissemination of information. As for the VOIP, it is an interesting tool whereby we can collaborate remotely using skype for instance to work on projects, etc...We also got the opportunity to learn other tools such as google docs and wikis which are equally important in remote collaboration without having to meet individuals physically. I also found those web 2.0 tools to be very sustainable in a way. For example, by using them it saves paper, energy, costs and all....

The Application of web 2.0 tools:

Having got the opportunity to learn the web 2.0 tools, we must definitely apply it in our daily lives, else it would have been a waste of time to come to this workshop...For example, we can use some of those tools at our workplace. Like for instance, if my manager ask me to prepare a newsletter for my organisation, i can simply create it on a google doc which will enable me to share it instantly with him  as well as other staffs of the organisation and furthermore have their views and comments on its progress so that i can improve the newsletter rapidly. I can say that work will be done very rapidly if one starts using web 2.0 tools!!!!
In addition,  having learnt the magic of skype, I can organise skype meetings with colleagues and team members if we are working on similar projects. Furthemore, working with the farming community, field inspection are regularly done to solve farmer's problems and in this context, skype meeting can also be organised to a group of farmers to complement the field visit in order to discuss on additional issues. These are few examples of how we can use the web 2.0 tools at our workplace. Indeed there are numerous ways how we can apply those tools everyday!

I suggest that those web 2.0 tools must be made accessible to a wider population so that they can also learn about such tools.

Below is a short video on web 2.0 tools for beginners like me...:)

Web 2.0 Opportunity in Mauritius

We are currently in the workshop of the Web 2.0 Learning workshop organized by the Technical Centre for agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture (FOA-University of Mauritius) and the Food and Agricultural Council (FARC).

This opportunity is very useful since we are able to have  training on the importance of using web 2.0 tools and also got the opportunity to have hands-on experiences.

web 2.0 tools