Following up from my earlier post on Native Collaboration Techniques, let me elaborate on the concept using an example situation for collaboration. Let us take a scenario where the technology platform is a Virtual Classroom where learners dial-in using a phone line or VoIP.  They connect to the virtual collaboration platform component which allows things like application sharing, presentations, surveys, quizzes, breakout rooms etc. At the end of the class, records for attendance and quiz results are stored for future analysis. The network level access is brought about by one-to-one or one-to-many chat sessions or back channels that learners can initiate while the class is going on.

Let us assume a content/domain of collaboration, say, sales training. Let us take the simple example of a topic that focuses on (say) requirements capture or needs analysis from a customer and the offer of the correct product to the customer.

The context in this scenario could be the need to shorten the ramp up time for training new hires on the company’s basic process for sales so that they can become productive quicker than usual. From the new hire perspective, the state of world is that they have to use their prior experience, skills learnt and practice in the classroom to make sure that they not only understand the products, but also the customers and the sales process.

Let us assume that the company has invested in building  a simulation that models the products, best practices and customer profiles in their business and provides a real-life immersive activity for the learner to learn and practice on skills.

Now, in the class, the basic process is explained with a couple of examples. The instructor then starts the collaborative activity. This activity is really the simulation they have developed but with one major difference. The difference is that instead of the learners playing them outside the context of the collaboration platform (like a LAB situation), the simulation provides the instructor a way to see how each individual learner (or groups that she may have created in the class) are performing. That means. the instructor can literally view the sales process executing in the hands of the learners and can intervene at any point if a select indicator for a specific step in the process shows an alert for a user.

It could also be that the learners co-execute a simulation. This could be made possible if the instructor creates teams and configures them to use various channels (closed user groups) for collaboration so that they could combine efforts to execute the sales process on the simulator.

In this situation, the simulation and the virtual platform operate seamlessly together to bring the right results from the collaborative activity. Not only are the basic elements of the classroom (instructor, learners’ roster, help materials etc) available to the simulator, but also the simulator provides its own integration points (interrupt a process, view collaboration activities in a group, trace key decision points etc) to the virtual platform.

In this sense, this is an example where the best collaboration practices and expertise in the domain can be brought together to augment the learning experience. This is something that could be standardized and built into frameworks much like the way SCORM has evolved, as well as take current collaboration platforms to the next level.

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