Jun 13

Welcome to the World of Online Collaboration

Bontoc Patupat may just be sold online.

Organizations such as schools, government and non-government agencies, businesses are discovering the benefits of taking work –onto a new level.  I’m doing this column while on a break here in Makati as a member of the technical working group in my day job-the Department of Trade and Industry.  Each region from across the Philippines has sent a representative to help lay the ground work for a national agency website.  An organization website is a way to help disseminate information to clients of the organization.  Websites can be information-al, interactive or an extension of a business where products can be displayed and bought online.


We are doing the framework for a website that will provide information to local and foreign investors on where to do business especially on their lines of interest.   The old format of maintaining a website requires a webmaster -usually a third party.  The webmaster does the updating, layout and does all the whistles and bangs that make up a website.   For organizations that have a budget, this option is the best, the information is fed to the webmaster that does the work of updating the website.  This frees up the members of the organization to concentrate on the content aspect of a website and leave the technicalities to a third party.  It is just like if a company were to have a regular newsletter or an information board, somebody has to do the work of updating the information.


An organization can also opt to have its own technical team composed of Information Technology graduates that have various levels of expertise.  The team also includes graduates from other backgrounds or disciplines.  The team could have one who has an eye for editing content-from grammar to the right choice of words, another could be one who has the expertise in doing graphic works and design (from the logo, color –more on the aesthetics of the site), still one team member will do the coordination with other departments of the organization on what information to publish and another team member could be a computer hardware technician to make sure that hardware problems are taken care of.


For organizations on a limited budget and those that have dispersed units across a big area –an example of which are national government agencies that have offices nationwide, another platform can be adapted.  This is known as taking advantage of cloud computing.  Cloud computing is availing of applications that do not have to be physically installed in a computer.  In short all the things that you need work on for example; developing a website is available online.  The only thing needed to be able to work this way is to have an internet connection.  With the cost of Internet access now more affordable, including increased bandwidth (speed), many new ways to work and collaborate are now possible.


This platform includes the likes of content management systems like Joomla, Drupal and lately, Google’s web development application called Google Sites.  Content management systems allow a team to work on a website even if they are scattered anywhere in the world.  Work is distributed among the team members and updates are timely and do not have to go through a tedious process.  There are also safeguards to enable work to go smoothly.  Like a publishing outfit that has an editor, the title equivalent for collaborative work online is called the web administrator.  In short team members have various levels or degrees of authority in relation to the content, layout and other matters affecting a website.  This is also depends on the platform used.  For example, an administrator is the highest authority in the group.  The administrator can assign, accept, and limit members of the team to various levels of what they can do in the website.  One can be assigned to contribute content (information) only, but the administrator will decide whether it will be published or not.  Another may have work limited only to contributing content but not to change the layout of the website.

Still there are many other ways to do work like collaborating on one document-wherein members of the team can input their comments before a final copy is made.  This is possible even if the workers are scattered.  In this new ways to do work, what sort of skills are required of our school age children-who are obviously going to inherit this developments in the workplace?  The answer is still very basic.  Do well in reading, writing and arithmetic.  I mean-the old fashioned way!