Technological tools for collaboration


Collaboration is hard (think of the most intimate format of collaboration – marriage, 48% of them fail in Canada and 53% in USA, source – divorce demography wiki). Virtual collaboration is harder.

For the four stage of (mostly offline collaboration) : form, norm, storm and perform, if we want to migrate that online, obviously we need tools which support the whole process – to know each other, to form standard and bond, to discuss and debate, until ultimate to produce outcomes and develop portfolios.

What are some existing technological tools available to facilitate this process? Are they fragmented along the process or can they be integrated?

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Profiling – we want to feel we are cooperating with humans, that makes the process and impact more personal. The network of Facebook and LinkedIn make it so much easier to establish a profile and network both in personal and professional context.

wechatGoogle hangout iconslack iconSkypeCommunication – There are numerous communication tools in the market. They can be in the form of either asynchronous or synchronous, pass over messages via the format of text, audio, video or multimedia. Some of them run better on mobile devices and others do so on computers.

google_docs_original_icons_by_painiax-d74oqqfCo-creation – This is where nobody does better than Google documents. For almost every group project I am in, all of them rely on Google documents and Google folder, except my projects in China. (power of firewall, see my related blog – love letter for Google)


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 e-portfolios – slideshare, pinterest, youtube are all possible e-portals for people to display their collaborative outcomes.

These technological tools are not just made for educational purpose and they are fragmented. Does it matter?



Is the world of education flat?


Assuming our world especially the world of technology continues to flatten, what does it mean for us, individually and institutionally?

I believe we need to have a global and a growth mindset. A global mindset to equip us to be able to collaborate with people beyond cultural boundary. A growth mindset to upscale skillsets in order to stay relevant.

The world of learning and teaching respond rapidly to our fast changing reality, in both formal and informal learning space.

student packingFor students – According to OECD’s white paper ‘Education at a Glance 2012’, ‘the number of international (tertiary-level) students has increased fivefold from 0.8 million worldwide in 1975 to 4.1 million in 2010…Since 2000, the number of foreign tertiary students enrolled worldwide has increased by 99%, for an average annual growth rate of 7.1%.’


world mapFor teaching – New business models emerged with a groundbreaking example of Minerva School. The university allows students to live and learn in seven of the world’s cities during four years of study in accredited residential program. The first batch of its students come from different continents. (read commentary ‘Is Minerva University redefining 21st century education’)

For informal lifelong education – Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer everyone with internet access to read, watch and digest educational content.

If we can make educational content open at massive scale, can we make collaborative learning at massive scale, using technology?

The technology world is flat


A decade ago, in his book ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas L. Friedman argues that the world was becoming a level playing field for commerce, citing ten driving forces such as

  • Breakdown of political division : collapse of the Berlin Wall
  • Internet ubiquitous allows information, content, work to flow, and the possibility of uploading and collaborating of online projects
  • Business model: outsourcing and offshoring

Top 10 technology companies by market cap 1995As of today, all of them are proved true especially in the world of technology.

In 1995 world’s top 15 technology company list (by market capitalization, source: Mary Meeker, ‘Internet Trend’ 2015) told us a few things:

  1. Companies were all from North America territory and Europe (1 from Germany)
  2. They were still largely operating in their home base.

Looking back it felt the world was living in another life.

Top 10 technology companies by market cap 200520 years after, situation largely changed. Among the top 15 list, 4 of them come from China. All of them are global brands aiming for the world’s lion share.

Most of them also did not exist in year 1995, such as Facebook (USA), Alibaba (China), Tencent (China).

These technology unicorns are young, ambitious and global known.

In year 2016, technology continues to disrupt all industries including taxi (Uber of USA, Didi of China), hotel (Airbnb of USA), personal finance (Ant financial of China). They entered into the world’s league table with equal ambition to face the flat world.

The question is – how does our formal and informal education respond to this new world?

Top 10 technology companies by 2016