Early in a group project, we were trying to decide what tools, if any, we should use to keep in touch. Some of the group wanted to use texting functions on our phones, but my phone is not as smart as most. I do not have text functions.
One of the programs we considered was Co-Op (coopapp.com) because using that we could keep a single-thread conversation going. Where Yammer was a sort of serious user’s Facebook (PC World, 2012), Co-Op is an analog of Twitter (PC World, 2010).
Co-Op allows team members to use a sort of single-stream chat window. Other functions let users post their current agenda and track time on task (PC World, 2010). Although discussion is important to build understanding (Sawyer, 2011), there was no way to compartmentalize discussions. There were no ways to establish multiple, different threads. The boundaries of this program were a little too confining for our purpose. Although there were definite limits, there was no room to maneuver (Palmer, 2007). For a larger project, this program would get rather unwieldy.
Nevertheless, if a group needed to have an asynchronous chat, this program would keep the chat in chronological order where email threads can get complicated especially if only some of the members are able to be online at one time.
These programs can be handy for their purposes, but at the end of the day, we used neither in our group work. I did not recommend Yammer because it was too much program for our short term need, and Co-Op did not have enough function for what we needed. A simple chat window requiring an extra login was more bother than it was worth.
Ultimately, we relied on a combination of email and the group-specific Blackboard forum. The email threads did get a little tangled now and then as more than one person posted a response at the same time from one message. Had there been more people in the group, a program like Yammer would have been useful.
Online tools can be useful for long-distance collaborations, but in our case, we kept it simple and made use of our existing email addresses the Blackboard forum already established for us. In other situations a more robust program like Yammer or a simple chat program like Co-Op might have been useful.
Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Sawyer, K. (2011, May 6). Collaboration enhances learning [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://keithsawyer.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/collaboration-enhances-learning/
Palmer, P. J. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life (10th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
PC World. (2010). 15 Free Online Collaboration Tools for Business. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from http://www.pcworld.com/article/200835/15_free_online_business_collaboration_tools.html
PC World. (2012). What the heck is Yammer? Retrieved July 28, 2014 from http://www.pcworld.com/article/260517/what_is_heck_is_yammer.html