INSIGHT FROM THE CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE
Collaborative technologies exemplify information technology that has evolved in response to the need to increase efficiency and effectiveness of group meetings and cooperative work. As groups play a more important role in organizations, the use of collaborative technologies becomes more endemic. However, students training for organizational positions generally do not receive a high level of training in group work or working with collaborative technologies. To address this challenge we introduced three collaborative technologies, Group systems, SAMM, and Option Finder, in two graduate business courses. Our main objective was to better understand how these technologies might be introduced and integrated into the classroom environment to support the learning process. The students’ provided feedback on the use of the technologies regarding positive and negative aspects and methods of improving the process. The positive aspects of using these technologies were they provided a more efficient decision making process, anonymity, faster feedback and a more structured and focused process. The negative aspects included a lack of interaction among the students, a difficulty in learning the technology and not enough time. It is believed that the negative aspects were more an artifact of constrained classroom time than a response to the technology. Methods of improvement included more discussion and more training on the technology.
During the past ten years collaborative technologies have evolved. These technologies can be characterized by variations along the continua of time, space and level of group support (Alavi & Kenn, 1989; DeSanctis & Gallupe, 1987; Johansen, 1988). The term Group Support System (GSS) refers to a computer-based electronic system, frequently implemented on a local area network (LAN) to support the work of groups and to supplement the meeting process (Dennis, et.