We evaluate the use of BSCW shared workspaces in higher education by means of a comparison of seven courses in which this environment was used. We identify a number of different functions for which the BSCW environment has been used and discuss the relative success of these functions across the cases. In addition, we evaluate the cases with the 4E model of Collis et al. (2000) which predicts the chances of acceptance of ICT in an educational setting. Effectiveness for the given task appears to be a prime success factor for using ICT. But an effective tool may fail due to other factors like ease of use and organisational, socialcultural or technological obstacles. The particular strength of a shared workspace, for which BSCW is most effective and efficient, is providing a repository for objects of collaborative work. Other types of usage showed mixed results. In the future we expect that learning takes place in an integrated, open ICT environment in which different kinds of tools are available for different purposes and users can switch between tools as appropriate. We could observe this in several of the case studies, where non-use of BSCW did not mean that a particular task was not performed, but, on the contrary, a more efficient solution for the same function was available. Shared workspaces have proven to be highly useful, but it seems advisable that their purpose be limited to what they were originally designed for.
|Publisher||University of Twente, DINKEL Institute|