We are proposing now to move the LiNC project "off the desktop" by developing and evaluating tools for work coordination and awareness in shared physical spaces. We want to support and investigate situations in which people work together both proximally and at a distance. The collaborative classroom-based activity we have investigated during the past six years is an example: Students work with their physically-proximal teacher and peers, but also with collaborators in other schools or in the adjacent community. Integrated support for proximal and remote collaboration depends on making large amounts of information public in both contexts simultaneously.

We think that large displays can be the key technology for this, in part because they match existing collaborative practices in classrooms so well: Teachers and students are already used to sharing information at the blackboard. In our current testbed, they have to leave this context and return to the desktop in order to make use of the LiNC software. A large-display hardware infrastructure would allow us to integrate the two proximal and remote modes of collaboration.

In the first phase of this project (July - December 2001), we will develop and evaluate software to extend the LiNC collaboration infrastructure. Four large interactive displays will be placed in our human-computer interaction research labs, which span about a dozen rooms in two large suites, located in two different buildings at Virginia Tech (McBryde and Torgersen halls). We will investigate a variety of work coordination applications including proximal-distant meetings, and personal status updating. We will investigate the use of wireless handheld PDAs to integrate personal and public views of information spaces.

In the second phase of the study, the technology will be moved to the classroom setting. We will move two of the large interactive displays into two school classrooms. The two displays that remain at Virginia Tech will continue to support collaborative interactions and further experiments at the university, as well as supporting interactions between the university researchers and teachers and students at the school sites. During Spring 2002 we will make a formative evaluation, and redesign applications as necessary.

During third phase of this project, the entire school year 2001-2002, we will run a more formal and summative technology trial. We will assess the application of the large interactive displays for supporting proximal-distant school collaborations.


Faculty: John M. Carroll,  Philip L. Isenhour, D. Scott McCrickard, Chris North, Manuel Perez, Mary Beth Rosson, Jennifer A. Thompson

Graduate Students: Daniel R. Dunlap, Craig Ganoe, Dennis C. Neale, Wendy A. Schafer

Related NSF Award

We have recently won an award in the National Science Foundation's Information Technology Research (ITR) initiative. This award will help to support our LiNC Off the Desktop project. Title, principle investigators, and abstract:

Activity Awareness in Computer-Supported Collaboration  [Project Summary, Full Project Description ]
John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, D. Scott McCrickard, Philip C. Isenhour, Dennis C. Neale, Daniel R. Dunlap

People working collaboratively must establish and maintain awareness of one another's intentions, actions, and results. Understanding the role of awareness in computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) and developing effective software tools to support awareness are keys to the future success of CSCW systems.

This project will develop and evaluate a suite of awareness tools to support coordinated planning, action, and outcome analysis in collaborative science learning. Classroom-based field studies will be coordinated with a series of laboratory investigations, to benefit from both the scope and ecological validity of a field study and the analytical focus and control of laboratory studies. Laboratory studies will adapt task simulation methods, including the use of confederate participants, from the social psychology of communication.

A key scientific objective is to investigate and develop the notion of activity awareness, the awareness of project work that supports group performance in complex and long-term tasks. Activity awareness builds upon prior research on social awareness (of the presence of oneís collaborators) and action awareness (of what collaborators are doing or what they have recently done). Developing a concept of activity awareness can further integrate awareness research and tool support.