Today’s workshop on Group Awareness in Online Work, Learning, and Games finishes up with the debut of the EURO-CAT collaborative working software prototype. The participants sit around me eagerly clicking a forging ahead through the many profile setup screens designed to create harmonious working environments online, I suppose by presenting ourselves as well as possible. the software looks alright, the color palettes and screens look alright, but EURO-CAT just make me feel like I am working quite hard to get through it. I believe you will quickly put people off their desire to work as a team the more demanding the experience is upfront. Looks like they have a lot of streamlining work to do to make it run smoothly,but hey that is what research is all about. The first run of testers are getting a little frustrated with the error messages and demands to complete every box on a page before proceeding. Overall the tool has a lot of possibilities and could grow into something amazing, in my opinion especially if they take a more design ethnography approach to refinements 😉
I bet its hard debuting a piece of software only to receive a laundry list of improvements, but that is how iteration works. All I know is that the iterations and edits I constantly subject myself to, though they maybe painful, only forge me into a stronger person with more methods of communicating clearly. Next the whole group moved into skype to do the actual collaborative work, because EURO-CAT is only really a group collaborative working profile management system. Lame, I had thought the whole group met and was run through the EURO-CAT, but it looks like that is a little down the road.
After this prototype trial run a little rest and some dinner let’s call it a day.
I am defending my Masters in design ethnography project tomorrow and have to be bright and shiny.
*If you are just jumping in on this post, look at the first 5 post back in time (below on the page) for my live blogging feed from today.
The 5th and last speaker of the morning for the Group Awareness Workshop was very interested in improving motivation for online learning.
Carina’s main interest has been in her teaching of project management. She clearly articulated how difficult it is for people, even in face to face situations, to understand what is project management. She has taught to a variety of people from technological and business backgrounds.
She delineated between group awareness, knowing who we work with and how, and larger community awareness, which is a different kind of awareness. Then she presented the question all clients and business ask, “is e-learning as good as face to face learning?” The answer is irrelevant, we will have to use online learning to educate efficiently and broadly. Sticking to face to face methods simply is not cost effective anymore. Her Phd will focus on looking at self and group motivation over multiple online cross-cultural project management courses.
Can’t wait to see what she comes up with in the next few years!
What do you do online? Now think about what you do online while you are supposed to be working with your co workers or group partners? Do your fingers itch for google every 3 seconds? Do you check facebook every time you get stuck?
Now imagine trying to design around all that and get students and collaborators to work together AND keep focused.
This is what Virginie Demeure was talked about as the 4th speaker in the Group Awareness Workshop; including an analysis of students’ temporal patterns when they are learning collaboratively online.
She spoke of the differences between task dependent measures and task independent measure. Task dependent measures of work conducted online, include looking at how much work happens online in a space of time, or how many clicks are needed to accomplish a task, etc. I am most interested in task independent measures, this is when learners will report their own perspective of how much time was used to conduct different kinds of work. This self reported student data is then see the log of what they actually do. That way they can check the students self-reporting accuracy, which is something we have been very interested in during the course of the Patterns of Play project, as we show players game log data visualizations to them and ask for their self reports on the patterns.
She talked in detail about the various mechanisms within the EURO-CAT tool used for monitoring the temporal patterns students self-report and the log data the team uses to compare to what students report. These consist of bars similar to the ones we see in project management Gantt charts and the collaborators slide the bars back and forth to indicate during which hours they are usually conducting certain activities. It is an OK way to do it for a prototype, but I can’t help wishing it could be more game-like still.
Margarida Romero opened the third talk of the day by sparking a moment of what I call “epiphany under my nose” or in other words “of course.” She presented us with the idea of how teamwork can be strongly affected by how team mates perceive each other, online! In profiles people pick up on whether some one is smart but lazy of time constricted or if someone is not so brilliant but dedicated to the project. When people collaborate in real world environments, we can pick up on someone’s level of investment and commitment to the project using body language and other cues. When working in online collaborative environments people make these same value decisions about you based on your profile.
So be careful how you fill out those profiles. Usually we have only fixated on these things when deciding to use facebook professionally, but Margarida continues on to describe three distinct task types and group dynamics which are created through a combination of the design of the collaborative task and the perceptions players form of each other from profiles”:
Individual Competitive – “this is about me working for myself on my own, my own knowledge will solve this task”
Complimentary – “we work in the same direction”
Cooperation – “we work together”
This was all interesting and good, but I still tend to think they use far too many surveys to assess the prototypes they are making. These laundry lists of ratings and time logs turn people off, and I know its just a research context, but why can’t the evaluation tools used to check the prototype be more game like them selves?
Dr. Niki Lambropoulos, the organizer and 2nd speaker for the Group-Awareness in Online Work, Learning & Games Workshop, bamboozled me with so much information I don’t know where to dive into all the rich interesting things she presented.
First I learned two new acronyms from Dr. Niki. Why what acronyms you ask, well CSCW?computer supported cooperative work and its partner CSCL? Computer-supported collaborative learning. She oulined how the foundations of all collaboartion are aligning goals, times, and activities. Niki brought up how the spectrum of working together is based on the 3 C’s – communication coordination convergence, just like many of the design process focusing on iteration as well as divergent and convergent progression of the project. What this means is that people need to join in on one idea in the end to collaborate.
Dr. Niki put is simply, “we don’t know how to be together.” It is a tough job to get a learner learning and a group collaborating, she says “playing together requires effort and technique.” we need to have methods and tools to work effectively and efficiently online. She mentioned how our social awareness changes online, that our presence and perception of being real in an online environment can change how we work together online.
Her final slide displayed it all quite succinctly:
Good morning! My activity for the day is taking taking part in the Group Awareness Workshop, subtitled Group Awareness in Online Work, Learning and Games. Here we have my impression of the first speaker.
Bill Kapralos, from lovely Toronto Canada, has had a long journey to arrive in the realm of researching serious games. His current work aims to improve learning for medical and health care professionals. He opens with some interesting ethnographic / organizational behavior observations. He points out the deficits nurses and doctors perceive in each others’ skill sets, and how this leads to workplace friction. Then he throws out the heavy term, “interprofessional education.” One of the constraints on his work he mentions is how difficult and expensive it can be to bring together an entire medical staff to have group education or “interprofessional education.” Bill goes on to present the second constraint, “The millennial student, traditional teaching doesn’t address their learning needs,” and now he enters the space I prefer… VIDEO GAMES! The games are killing our attention spans, but at the same time we are learning, just a little differently. Oh now he is just preaching to the choir, awesome. “Video games are learner centered approach…” says Bill, and he goes on “we are putting the student in charge of their own learning, we are letting them pick control.” His next point focuses on how these teaching games can allow users to experience dangerous, risky, or difficult work situations at a fraction of the cost or risk or real world training. One of Bill’s projects is called mSTREET? Modular Synthetic Training Research Evaluation and Extrapolation Tool, oh what a mouthful. Then the audience mentions the lack of “education” in the full title, HA! Then is could have been meSTREET, brilliant! How cool does a Virtual 3D Critical Care Unit game sound? We’ll call the first level “The deteriorating patient scenario,” enter Dr. House.
Bill is telling us about how adding bits of humor into the game has gotten positive reactions from the medical professionals. When you pick the wrong tool during the operation you get a message from the other staff in the game saying: “This is not the right tool for this stage of the operation,” that’s not that special right? But the player’s retort on screen says, “I knew that.”