How do we collaborate? Let me count the ways!

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Wed, Sep 14, 2011

Interesting Technologies, Showcase

col·lab·o·rate - verb \kə-ˈla-bə-ˌrāt\

1: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

- Merriam Webster Online

Collaboration is at the heart of the WPI project system but, as many teams know, collaboration can be hard.  You need to keep people, documents, and tasks all organized and this can be a challenge (especially when your only tool is email)!  But, never fear!  There are many other tools out there to help you and your team get organized and on the right track!

Some External Tools

Google Apps

Google offers a small suite of document management tools for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other file types.  For a demonstration of Google Docs in action check out: http://docs.google.com/demo/edit?id=scAAaUcEy3MMMTQ76j1dcqdyI&dt=spreadsheet#spreadsheet.  Or for more information on setting up a particular document type please see:

Access to Google Docs also will give you access to a myriad of other Google tools like the Calender and eMail tools.

DropBox

The makers of Dropbox describe it as “the easiest way to sync and share your files online and across computers.” Dropbox makes it very easy to share files across multiple computers and portable devices while also facilitating open sharing of documents between group members.

External tools are great, but there are reasons to use an Internal WPI-supported tool.  For example:

  1. You would like support from WPI IT
  2. Your instructor has specifically asked for it.
  3. But probably the best reason of them all: Your Project contains proprietary information that you would like to ensure the security of – we cannot guarantee that Google does not look at your information, but we can tell you that WPI IT does not!

The Internal WPI-Supported Tools

SharePoint for Student Project Teams

SharePoint is available to members of the WPI community, including student project teams, e.g. Independent Study, IQP and MQP groups.

Windows SharePoint is a collaboration tool that allows teams to share documents, contacts, calendars, and other relevant group information on one website. A highly customizable tool, SharePoint sites are available to all students at WPI.

To request a SharePoint site for your project team, please fill out this form.

myWPI for Student Project Teams

myWPI is also available to student project teams here on campus.  One key difference here is that myWPI is also available to a project team’s external advisers.

myWPI allows teams to share documents and manage their project related materials in a familiar environment.

To request a myWPI Site for your group, please fill out this form.

How do you choose between them? What is the right resource for my group?

myWPI and SharePoint are two tools available for project groups on campus. Both tools can aid your groups with collaboration and communication. This chart is designed to help you make the best decision for your project group.

 

MY PROJECT GROUP WOULD LIKE TO. . . FEATURES COMPARISON:
SHAREPOINT MYWPI
…share files and documents amongst our group members. Check-in and CheckoutVersioning

Document Library:
Can upload the zip, but it won’t unpackage it.  However, you can upload multiple files on IE in Windows.

Upload/DownloadAdd Item to specific areas (no dropbox)
Can zip them together for a faster upload
…allow access to outside users such as off-site project advisors. Unfortunately at this time SharePoint is available to WPI users only. Guest Accounts are available through the non-employee accounts process – email myhelp@wpi.edu for additional information.
…be able to transfer the project to a new project groupafter we are done. Content easily transferred from year to year. Content does not pass from year to year.
…use a Wiki to develop materials. CSS Style sheet – Grab and copy content. Export the Wiki to a chart.
…maintain a group calendar. More functional – can connect to Exchange. Rudimentary – no connection to Exchange.
…establish and assign project tasks. Can be assigned and prioritized
Can create a GANT Chart
Can set Start as well as Finish Dates
Assign % Complete
Can Attach files
Can Edit other people’s tasks
Within the confines of myWPI, no Exchange connection.
Can be prioritized, but not assigned.
Can edit tasks, but it doesn’t’t record a revision history.
…maintain a shared list of contacts pertinent to the project. Can create and share, attach, export. Add personal, or create a whole new section and add them as “items”.
…have a project site, but some of us do not use IE. See browser information for SharePoint.
…share Multimedia Content amongst our group members. Photo Gallery, Slide Library Embeds wmv with asx in IE (no problem).  Podcasting tool supported, and podcasts can be made available to the public with RSS feeds.
…have the ability to send announcements to the group members. Push to whole group if user chooses. User chooses to alert participants.
…use a discussion board to exchange ideas and information. Intuitive set up
Can filter  by thread, or almost anything
New forums are flagged
Can export to spreadsheet, but it doesn’t’t look very good.  Can connect to Outlook and export as emails.
Multiple Layers, requires many Clicks to post. Have to create forum and thread before you can start posting.
Can collect by thread or forum and export/print
Many features that may not be needed for project work
New forums are not flagged.
Can search by name, etc., but not much granular control
…know that in case of catastrophe our materials are backed up.

Backed up at same level of restore, but:

Stores deleted items in the recycling bin. (also, don’t forget about versioning!) When you hit delete, it’s gone.
…use a Blog to track team progress and discuss ideas. Similar to Blogspot.  Not used frequently (disabled by default) Not as robust.
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