ICS 668: Technology Supported Communities & Collaboration (Fall 2005)

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Overview

UH Catalog Description

An advanced introduction to the design of human-computer systems
and other technological artifacts for supporting human
collaboration in learning, work, and social contexts, and to
theoretical perspectives and empirical studies of collaboration
that inform such design.

Overview Description

In this research and design seminar you will review recent literature and software in several major areas related to collaborative systems and online communities, and choose and carry out a semester project on one of the topics.

The objectives of the seminar are to:

  • Help all students become aware of current knowledge about the design of technologies for collaboration and online communities.
  • Prepare PhD students for research on a topic in these areas.

The readings will include:

  • Background readings on theories, research methodologies, and results of previous research.
  • Selected readings from the recent research and design literatures on topics of current interest, including topics proposed by students. (See example list at end of this page.)

The projects may take any of the following forms (to be negotiated with instructor on an individual basis):

  • a software design project -- for those who like to implement systems
  • an empirical study -- for those who like to do science, or test ideas
  • a thorough literature review in an area of specialty -- for those who like to read and write about ideas

Group projects will be allowed but not required.

No particular background is assumed. Students should be willing to put effort into learning from reading and online discussion. A background in human-computer interaction or some exposure to related fields will be useful.

Topics Explored in Previous Years

The last time this seminar was offered (as ICS 691), we addressed the following topics and questions. This year's topics may be changed according to trends in the research literature and student interests.

  1. Features of effective or successful communities and collaborations. Which online communities have been successful, and why? What is a "community of practice", and how do you support them?
  2. Representational foundations for collaboration. How can the features of representations that we provide to support people's collaborations influence the nature of that collaboration? To what extent are predefined semantics possible, or how should we support users' mutual negotiation of semantics from more fundamental representational primitives?
  3. Personalization, personal identity, and social relations in online communities. In what ways can one's identity be reflected in an online community? How does this identity enhance (or detract from) the quality of learning or work in the community? How can collaboration be enhanced through visualization of status and social relations between participants?
  4. Discourse processes within a community. How can collaboration be enhanced through visualization of conflict, agreement and consensus? Can a tool support the identification of consensus and conclusions from an online interaction while also preserving access to history if it is needed? How do ideas and conclusions need to move between private, group and public spaces?
  5. Ubiquitous and wireless computing (e.g., cell phones, PDAs) in support of collaboration. How can the properties of these devices be used to support more pervasive collaboration, or collaboration that extends beyond the (physical, temporal, social) boundaries of what is possible with conventional computer technology?

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