Authors: Patricia Fung, Prof. Tim O'Shea, Sara Bly
Addresses: Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, England, UK. ' Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, England, UK. ' System Concepts Laboratory, Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre, USA
Abstract: Increasing use of technology in communications is capable of producing a profound effect on the frequency, type and quality of interactions between individuals or groups engaged in similar enterprises although situated at different locations. This paper reports on a benchmark study investigating existing communication patterns of two research groups based at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, and discusses this with reference to a similar study carried out at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, USA. Although similarities between the communication patterns presented in these two studies were seen, there were also significant differences. The findings of the study also indicate that in some cases the new electronic communications media, rather than replacing older methods of communication, have a catalytic effect upon them and that electronic communications provide users with new ways of interacting and collaborating. The paper concludes by looking at how participants in the UK study viewed changes which would come about in the near future as both existing and innovative means of communication began to reflect the growth of technological support in this area.
Keywords: electronic communications; communications media; communication technologies; electronic mail; email; videoconferencing; computer conferencing; facsimile transmission; fax; communication patterns; research groups; technological change; technological support; e-mail.
International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 1992 Vol.2 No.2/3/4, pp.221 - 237
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