At the eBusiness Day yesterday, Agilix was there showing off their new version of Go Binder (called Backpack). They have added some new features to it, and it’s cool and all, but I was talking with one of the guys, who I believe is a software developer, and I was saying that it needs more collaboration functionality. At least for students in the Marriott School, we do almost everything as a team, or in groups. I think there is an easier way to share documents information among students than emailing a file to someone else. That was the standard answer for collaboration questions that I got. I was thinking, and suggested, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could take notes in class, hit a “Share” button, and it connects to a website and publishes your notes so that either other team-mates or other class-mates can use them.
Backpack has a neat little calendar function where if teachers actually used Blackboard’s calendar for scheduling assignments, users could easily have a comprehensive assignment schedule. However, teachers don’t use the calendar, they always put it in Excel or Word. Every semester I take all of my classes’ syllabuses (syllabi?) and enter in the assignment due dates into my Palm Desktop. This usually takes about 4 or 5 hours. I believe that there are others in my classes that also do the same be it in Microsoft Outlook, iCalendar, or on paper day planners. If there was an easier way to collaborate class schedules, where say I create a schedule for BYU’s Business Management 341, Sec 7, I could easily share the class schedule with the rest and they could sync it with their calendar program. That way, others might also contribute to the scheduling process, and it wouldn’t take so long to create a good semester assignment schedule.
Wikis have been very successful collaboration tools for users to go and share knowledge and information. Wikipedia has grown immensely in size and popularity. I think people are willing to collaborate and share in the work if they are able to see the benefit. The Open Source community has flourished based on this model. I think that people would be willing to put some work into creating an assignment calendar, comprehensive set of class notes, and what not. They just need a vehicle which will allow them to do so.