Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Justin Brown

Abstract

Online Learning Environments (OLEs) have been widely adopted by higher education facilities, offering distance education with the potential to support the social and collaborative aspects deemed crucial to modern constructivist pedagogy. Groupware, a form of software which aims to facilitate group work, has been the subject of much research, from both educational and enterprise perspectives. This research introduced Reportal, an online groupware system designed to facilitate the collaborative authoring of a document. Reportal's peer review and participation awareness features were the focus of this research, and their impact was measured against the elements of online collaboration, a typology established by the author which reflects the factors that the literature has defined as being influential to effective online collaboration. The findings from a multiple case study of university students using the Reportal system indicate that peer review and participation awareness features in groupware have distinct positive impacts on the elements of online collaboration. While the research was a preliminary investigation, such findings are a first step in distinguishing, refining and implementing groupware features which support collaboration in an online environment. Implementation of such features has the potential to increase the effectiveness of online collaboration in education and enterprise significantly.

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