3. Support for collaboration

This section looks mainly at the type of support that is needed by students when collaborative activities are undertaken. We are presuming in this case that (as in the BIM Hub case) teams from more than one university are engaged in different modules (each at their own university) but have a collaborative exercise as part of all of those modules.

3.1 Maintain good communication at the separate institutions

Students require additional support for collaboration, as many issues with the collaboration can arise. Good communication with your own students during the project offsets much of the frustration if the next tip is not followed.

3.2 Maintain good communication with opposite numbers at other institutions

This is particularly difficult to maintain as this is outside of lecturers’ usual mode of working. However, as the students work closely together, any discrepancy between lecturers’ communications soon becomes apparent and undermines confidence.

3.3 Identify a shared set of applications that all students can use and have access to

The problems of different software being used by different students will occur even within the same country if different institutions collaborate. International working introduces additional challenges, since in some instances, even the same version of the same application will be different in different countries (for example Excel files may need to have data imported, rather than simply opening the file). Solutions to this adopted by students were to default to the lowest common denominator i.e. simpler packages were often used at all locations, or files were saved in the earliest used version (since in BIM-Hub case, all applications used were backwardly compatible). On occasions, students recreated the same content in the different packages, which was highly time-consuming. Ideally this could be an opportunity for all institutions to upgrade to the level of the most advanced of the institutions in the collaboration.