Users Training: A Crucial but Ignored Issue in Remote Collaborative EnvironmentsAn article on technical training needs for collaborative organizations working in remote areas of developing countries
A good deal of work is now performed in a remote way by groups of people collaborating from different organizations. These people generally have a fair knowledge of the Internet as individual users; however the projects they participate in may suffer from a killer disease: the communication among the team is not as efficient as required by the remote collaborative environment.
This paper establishes a more precise diagnostic of the common flaws of such projects, using a concept of "required Internet user level". The defined Internet user levels (unqualified, beginner, advanced, professional, fluent, expert) are characterized as growing sets of precise know-how (belonging to one of the following categories: functions, techniques, methods, and culture). The need for preliminary appropriate training and practice is established. The situation when this need is not recognized by individuals or groups is identified as a potential failure for the project. Furthermore, when the self perception of a user stands too far away from his/her actual level, the requirement for training is not understood and the group collaborative process may be blocked, or even fail.
Two schematical positions can be identified in collaborative projects using the Internet. The stand of the paper sets as a prerequisite that any group working remotely through the net must reach the required level on IT (Information Technology) skills, with special emphasis on methods and culture. The second one ignores the method considerations andrelies exclusively on appropriate groupware, tending to consider the IT environment as a constraint rather than an asset.
In conclusion, we warn against the mirage of the software panacea and the risk to keep on ignoring the methods required to perform professionally with the Internet and the culture on which the Internet is standing. Replacing users training by technological developments is a dangerous illusion and a factor for failure in remote collaborative project. Website (URL): http://funredes.org/funredes/html/english/publications/userstraining.html Author(s): Networks and Development Foundation - FUNREDES