CSCW – An introduction to the conceptual framework and themes

Kjeld Schmidt (Copenhagen Business School)

As a research area, CSCW was formed in response to the early development and use of collaboration technologies, as researchers from different disciplines and in different contexts began to try to understand the potentials and issues of these new technologies. As a result, CSCW was from the outset a rather heterogeneous area, spanning not only computer science and social science but also a manifold of distinctly different research paradigms. In important ways, CSCW is still characterized by such heterogeneity, not least because new collaborative technologies, made possible by underlying technological advances in distributed computing, give rise to new potentials and issues, and also because collaborative technologies become applied in new work domains and related use contexts. But at the same time, in the midst of this heterogeneity, a research program has been articulated and developed that attempts to build, from the bottom up, a conceptual framework for our understand of the design and use of collaboration technologies in actual work practices. The lecture will give an overview of the main themes of CSCW research and will focus on the ongoing construction of the conceptual framework.

In the afternoon students are expected to present their research by:
prepairing a poster before the school begins and bring it with them (see here for details on how to prepare the poster)
giving a 5 to 10 minutes presentation of the activities depicted in their poster
Link to the material for Monday: here


Field Studies (and what we have learned)

Dave Randall (University of Siegen) and Mark Ackerman (University of Michigan)

The lectures develop and expand themes concerning the use of fieldwork methods in CSCW and HCI in particular. The first lecture will examine some classic studies, including those of Heath and Luff and those of the Lancaster school. Examination of work practices, as they have come to be known, in and through an ‘ethnographic’ approach, has become a central element of design-related work. It has the overall objective of developing an understanding and appreciation of the various ways in which we can inform design. We will also consider the ways in which ethnographic work has evolved as new problems have emerged. The second lecture will focus on specific field studies in expertise/knowledge sharing and in health, showing how field studies have been (and will continue to be) instrumental in adding to CSCW’s socio-technical understanding.

Link to the material for Tuesday: here


CSCW Methods

Ina Wagner (University of Oslo), Tone Bratteteig (University of Oslo), and Dave Randall (University of Siegen)

The lectures examine the methodological choices that have evolved over the last 20-25 years in response to a variety of challenges, develop and expand themes concerning the use of fieldwork methods in CSCW and HCI in particular. In addition to ‘classic’ observational approaches, this period has seen the continued development of, for instance, forms of participatory design, of ‘value sensitive’ design and of approaches to the study of the ‘virtual’. We will examine a number of these methodological choices, pointing to their purposes and the challenges associated with them. Different methods of data collection during fieldwork generate different types of data, mainly video, photos, samples of (coordinative) artifacts and documents of all sorts. We focus on how to analyze such rich corpuses of mostly qualitative data, highlighting three different but complementary types of methods. Narrative analysis, which is largely descriptive, uses fieldwork material for constructing ‘stories’ that illustrate e.g. typical events or particular complex practices. Multimodal analysis is a much more conceptual approach to analyzing data. It is concerned with the multi-semiotic complexity of a construct or a practice and combines the analysis of talk, facial expressions, gestures, glances, bodily postures, and objects manipulations for understanding interactions, materiality and spatiality. Artifact analysis has been developed within CSCW in order to understand how specific artifacts (e.g. flight progress strips, patient records, design artifacts) are used for making work visible, structuring communication, providing workspace and template, helping manage interdependencies, and so forth. Artifact analysis looks at the specific features that support practitioners in their work.

Link to the (preliminary) material for Wednesday: here


Computational Artifacts and Technological Frameworks for Cooperation

Kjeld Schmidt (Copenhagen Business School), Carla Simone (University of Siegen), and Federico Cabitza (University of Milano-Bicocca)

The lectures will focus on the nature of the collaboration technologies. It will do so by taking two approaches. On one hand, it will describe the origins of interactive computing and collaboration technologies in actual work practices; on the other hand, the lecture will explore and discuss how we might conceptualize the relationship between computational artifacts and the work practices in which they are integrated and use. As Cooperation Technologies can be adopted in a variety of organizations they should be conceptually and technologically integrated with other kinds of technologies affording functionalities that partially support cooperation and can make integration problematic as their conception is based on different principles. The aim is to present these differences, to highlight the main concepts that the empirical investigations characterizing CSCW have uncovered and to put these concepts to work in the construction of technologies that support the various facets of cooperation in a complementary or alternative way. The presentation of specific technological frameworks show how these goals can be achieved.

Link to the material for Thursday: here


How to design a study/project

Volkmar Pipek (University of Siegen)

This lecture addresses some of the main issues involved in planning and managing a (participatory) design project. It starts with an idea for a project and how it can be expressed in terms of aims, research questions and methods and how to develop a conceptual framework. Important issues are how to generate design ideas (on the basis of fieldwork and involving practitioners in the field in the design) and how to plan for concretizing and evaluating design ideas, using e.g. field trials or participatory workshops. This also involves planning for data collection. A key question is how to support ‘appropriation in use’ and ensure the sustainability of the project results.

Link to the material for Friday: here

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