Identifying an emerged technology is highly dependent on the definition used to describe whether a technology has emerged or is emerging. While some describe an emerged technology for a particular community as one that has been introduced to the group and is perceived as emerged, regardless of actual time of development (Rogers, 2003; Laureate Education, 2014a); others make the claim that an emerged technology is one that has become affordable to all/most and has become a necessity to our daily lives (Laureate Education, 2014b). One technology that has emerged by both definitions is that of online document sharing sites such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook Groups, or Wikis.
These tools are changing the ways students work together on projects and assignments, how assignments are submitted, and how students are being assessed. These services allow for increased productivity, increased sharing of ideas, flexible access for students so they do not have to find times for them to meet in person, they save the school, students, parents, and teachers money from having to buy paper for printing, and they free up much needed physical space in overcrowded classrooms by eliminating the need for bulky file cabinets and printer stations (Top Ten Reviews, 2015; Chowdhury, 2009).
While online document sharing more and more popular in the classroom, there have been some challenges and pitfalls associated with their use. Some of these challenges include:
- Requires a internet connection to access documents and files.
- The cost of some of the available programs and software may be substantial. While there are free services, these usually come with a limited amount of storage space available and sometimes a limit to the number of collaborators working on the same project.
- The misuse of some of these project management and document sharing services can complicate simple projects so users must understand appropriate uses for the software.
- Not all services provide an adequate amount of security for their services putting your documents at risk of being hacked.
- Not all services offer tracking details as to who has edited the documents. This can be a particular challenge for teachers when it comes to assessing students, especially if equal collaboration between students is a requirement.
- Asynchronous collaboration often takes more time than in synchronous or face to face environments.
Many of these challenges and pitfalls can be avoided if certain steps are followed. First of all, make sure that the document sharing service chosen for use is appropriate to the students’, teachers’, and schools’ needs including cost, security, data storage, users, etc. Next, be sure assignments requiring online collaboration are given adequate time for students to complete successfully. Finally, be understanding of students’ ability to complete assignments in a timely manner if they are in areas where internet access may by limited, and provide opportunities for students to use the school’s internet if needed.
Australian Services Roundtable. (2015). Using Large Files and Sharing Documents. Retrieved from http://professionalservicesonline.com.au/module-9/
Carey, J. (2012, August 10). Dropbox: A Superb Classroom Tool. Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2012/08/10/dropbox-a-superb-classroom-tool/
Chowdhury, R. (2009, September 29). 7 Reasons Your Business Needs Online Document Management Software. Retrieved from https://www.huddle.com/blog/online-document-management-software/
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014a). David Thornburg: What is emerging technology? [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014b). Elliot Soloway: Emerging vs. emerged technologies [Audio file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press
Stiglitz, J. (n.d.). Google Apps in Classrooms and Schools: 32 Ways to Use Google Apps. Retrieved from http://professionalservicesonline.com.au/module-9/
Top Ten Reviews. (2015). Top Ten Advantages of Using Online Storage Services. Retrieved from http://online-storage-service-review.toptenreviews.com/top-ten-advantages-of-using-online-storage-services.html