Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Wadhah Amer Hatem, Alan S Kwan & John C Miles (2012) A Comparison of Face to Face and Computer Mediated Collaboration, Advanced Engineering Informatics, February 2012

In the construction industry, the need for collaboration between people who are geographically remote is a reoccurring feature. The traditional way of dealing with this is collocation but this is expensive and disruptive and so increasingly, use has been made of remote collaboration using computational technology over networks. To assess whether or not such computer mediated collaboration is effective, a carefully controlled set of experiments has been undertaken using ten groups of two people who are required to work on a partially developed design task. The work is undertaken using computer mediated communication supported by a 3D CAD package. As a control, the same people have also undertaken a similar design task working face to face. The results show that, for the type of design task involved, people collaborating using computer mediated communication, at worst are as effective as people working face to face and probably are slightly more effective.

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Comments on: "Do people collaborate more effectively using computers than face to face?" (1)

  1. I’d like to see the trial replicated in a multicultural setting.

    In many Asian and South American countries, projects get done when there is a pre-established, face-to-face relationship.

    One example: I worked with a group that wanted to set up a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to help improve English Language instruction and build sewage infrastructures in rural China (we have done similar projects in Vietnam). Before we received approval for long-term projects, teams like mine did summer-long projects. While one goal was to teach English, the other goal was to get to know government officials and build relationships. We spent as much time drinking rice wine and eating traditional food with locals as we did working. Relationships = trust – and that cannot be done in a virtual format.

    Friends of mine who have worked in Mexico tell tales of day-long eating/drinking sessions before doing business transactions.

    I suspect that the cultural context greatly influence the effectiveness of collaboration by computer.

    Janet |

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