Collaborative software connects Navy graduate students

The Naval Postgraduate School is deploying peer-to-peer software in some distance-learning, research and thesis classes, letting students miles apart from each other swap documents and messages instantly.

A professor at the school said he began working with the Groove Workspace v2.5 client-server collaboration software from Groove Networks Inc. of Beverly, Mass., when it was used more than a year ago by the Joint Forces Command Joint Futures Laboratory to improve the organization and efficiency of reconnaissance and surveillance teams.

'I started to advocate this on campus for my colleagues,' said Alex Bordetsky, a Naval Postgraduate School associate professor for information systems, who now uses the system in four on-campus classes. It offers students 'a high level of awareness in terms of who is doing what, which is extremely critical.'

The software presents users a list of names and roles of others participating in an online discussion. The students can send text messages or use the system's voice over IP technology.

The main window shows an electronic file, such as a document, graphic, streaming video or Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, under review by the users. The software automatically updates only file changes to each PC to save bandwidth.

About 50 students use the software, which the school installed in the last month. To use it, students download the client portion of the system to their desktops through a school Web site.

The desktop piece is managed from the back end by Groove Management Server v2.5, and uses Groove Relay Server v2.5 to connect students across network firewalls and synchronize offline edits when students come back online.

Groove Workspace supports Microsoft Windows 98 and newer versions of the operating system. It also works with several other Microsoft tools, including Outlook, Project, Messenger and SharePoint.

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