Computer Mediated Communications Systems

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Computer Mediated Communication

One of the key distinguishing elements of any technology in relation to its capacity for communication, is whether it supports synchronous or asynchronous communication flows. Synchronous communications allow people to communicate with each other in real time and can be described as interactive. Asynchronous communications are not reliant on real time interaction and allow people to share communications that can be accessed and contributed to at any given time, they can be described as messaging communications. Andriessen (2003) [1] has provided a taxonomy of collaboration technologies that illustrates synchronous and asynchronous capability. Table shown below is adapted from the traditional four cell classification of groupware tools.

Table: Types of Collaboration Technology (Andreissen 2003, p. 12)

Types of Collaboration Technology

Mason (cited in Andriessen 2003) concludes that the four crucial advantages of the asynchronous media in descending order of significance are;

  • Flexibility: Access can take place at any time
  • Time to Reflect: During the process
  • Situated Learning: The user can easily integrate the ideas being discussed with the environment in which they operate
  • Cost-effective technology

Mason’s four equally compelling advantages of synchronous media are:

  • Motivation: Synchronous systems focus the energy of the group
  • Telepresence: Real time interaction helps develop group cohesion
  • Good Feedback: Synchronous systems provide quick feedback on ideas and support consensus and decision making
  • Pacing: Synchronous events encourage people to keep up to date and provide discipline


  1. Andriessen, J. E. (2003). Working With Groupware: understanding and evaluating collaboration technology. London: Springer.