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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Visualizing and Navigating Collaborative Activity

Researcher: Kenneth Carey

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

LearningSpace 4.0 incorporates Domino discussions into its teaching tools, which allows teachers and students to collaborate informally. However, course developers and teachers who want to base lesson plans on collaboration will need tools for monitoring class participation, setting goals for teams, and grading students on their accomplishments as team members. We recently completed an interface that makes student collaboration visible to the teacher and students. Graphs and tables allow both instructors and students to see who has participated, how much, and in what role (kicking off new topics, responding, and so on). The tool also lets the teacher to drill down from top-level reports for more detail or go directly to the discussion entries. Because the reporting tool ports easily to QuickPlace, we can also envision "instant" learning spaces that will include these tools.

We are considering future enhancements that would let the instructor evaluate the amount of discussion related to specific lecture topics. Instructors could then identify problem areas for students in the curriculum and address these areas by revising or supplementing the course materials.

The working prototypes we developed were intended for the LearningSpace and QuickPlace software environments. Currently these reports focus on the discussion database entries. Future research might also explore generating these visualization and navigation capabilities to chat discussions as well.