This Week I am showing MS Groove 2007. This is an instant messaging program on steroids. It gives you the ability to not only chat, but also to share voice recordings, send files instantly, as well as create a simple easy document workspace. It is a nice program that can be used to foster collaboration both locally and around the world and is fairly inexpensive. It is a great tool to use in the classroom as well to foster communication/collaboration between students, classes, and schools. This collaboration/communication tool is a great alternative for those that can't afford or don't want all the bells and whistles of a portal like MS SharePoint. If you are looking for a simple way to share files, and chat with others along with a few collaboration tools then groove is your program.
There are a few issues to keep in mind. Unless you set up and maintain a groove server within your district/school then you are forced to use the Microsoft groove server space so confidentially may be an issue. I have used this with both staff and students with mixed results. When using it with staff it worked great with those who would use it and were willing to take on the learning curve and approached it as a collaboration tool. It didn't' work for those who went in to it as a cool little chat tool. With students it is a slightly different story.
The students in my class found the program by accident and set it up by themselves. I am letting this go to see how their learning of the program evolves through their use. Currently I am watching them us it as a way to share files and talk to each other both in and outside of class. I know some are grimacing at students chatting online versus face to face, I did too, but once I took a step back and watched I found it works, especially for those that find it hard to chat face to face. I also see this as how they are used to collaborating as well as how they will need to collaborate in the real world. The one thing I am keeping tabs on the managing is the use of groove for chatting. So far it is working out quite well with the group who is using it as intended. It is allowing a rather strong willed group of boys to work together and get things done without the posturing and arguing that can happen with a group like that. If you are curious as to how it turns out let me know and I will do a follow up blog post on that issue.
I would like to hear some of your ways you can see this program being used in the classroom, please share your thoughts.