Understanding the importance of online collaborative spaces


This article explains the progression of file sharing and the benefits of Online Collaborative Spaces.



To understand the benefits of online collaboration spaces, it is helpful to look at the evolution of file sharing. Technology used to support file sharing can be viewed on a continuum as shown in the diagram below.

Where users work on the continuum is typically dependent on two criteria:

  1. The business practices of the organization/department and
  2. The user’s own comfort level with the technology.

The following sections explore the four technologies identified on the continuum:

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Email Attachments

Email attachments have been around for decades. They represent the most common method used for file sharing. At Virginia Tech, there are two mail services that provide the ability to email attachments: Exchange Online and Gmail.

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Personal Cloud Drives

Personal Cloud Drives, like Microsoft OneDrive and Google My Drive, provide individual cloud storage options for users.

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Team Cloud Drives

Team Cloud Drives, like Google shared drives and SharePoint Online Document Libraries, provide users with shared centralized cloud storage.

Organizations will often use intranets to host team cloud drives for entire organizations. However, we discourage this approach in favor of Online Collaborative Spaces. For more information, take a look at What is the Difference between an Intranet and an Online Collaborative Space.

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Online Collaborative Spaces

Online Collaborative Spaces provide teams with collaboration tools that support communication and file sharing in their own shared, centralized, cloud locations.

For a better understanding of Online Collaborative Spaces, we suggest reading “How to create an Online Collaborative Space for Your Team”.

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