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Science of Collaboratories
Notes on Group Processes in Collaboratories


Prepared by Kristin Arbituski, Eric Hofer, and Diane Sonnenwald  

The second broad topic considered at the workshop was: What are the most important individual and group processes that affect the success of collaborations? In other words, how does collaboration occur among the participants? An important goal of a collaboratory is to be understood and establish common ground. A major component to achieving common ground is effective communication and having an awareness of how the participants will contribute to the collaboratory.Finding the technology to support the process of collaboration among the group is crucial.

Establishing common goals and objectives:  

  • Leadership is critical for collaboratory success one who can see the objectives of the collaboratory and steer the participants in the right direction
  • Devising a structure to discuss and make decisions effectively
  • Identifying the work to be done and what are the goals.
  • Knowing participants expertise and being able to assign roles appropriately by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and teams.
  • Creating an effective framework to promote efficiency and prevent rework through the organization of work teams.
  • Evaluate the workflow and understand how pooled, sequential and team interdependence fit in.
  • Understanding what the expectations are and what will be the deliverables (eg. publications)
  • Evaluating the quality of the deliverables  

Below are a list of items that aid in communication:  

  • Developing a common language
  • Sharing of artifacts in electronic or physical form to increase shared meaning.
  • Monitoring activities of participants
    • Seeing who is logged on
    • Chat rooms to discuss ideas and analyze data
    • The ability to upload documents to be shared onto a common site.
  • How to maintain trust and conflict resolution-how does working over distance impact trust and resolving interpersonal issues?  

Technology impacting group work processes:  

  • How does the group work together and which technology will support the workflow.
  • Understanding how people use technology to increase awareness (e.g., ICQ to hail someone to conduct videoconferencing).
  • Evaluating the impact of synchronous and asynchronous technologies.  

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