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Welcome

Welcome to what I hope will be an exciting adventure in interaction design!

We will be using an excellent textbook that has just been revised and up-dated.

We will collaboratively create a Wikipedia-like site on the topic of “Designing Social Interaction Software” from an HCI perspective.

We will be gaining hands-on experience with interaction design by tackling a very challenging design problem -- one that no one knows how to do well, but that many people will want to do in the future. This is the problem of supporting social networking for collaborative knowledge building. "Social networking" has become popular in the press as the "next big thing" on the Internet. Although it seems to have tremendous potential for online education, existing examples have serious problems and are little oriented toward serious education. As our example, we will focus on an effort at Drexel's Math Forum to launch "Virtual Math Teams" (VMT). This is a large research project by people at the I-School and the Math Forum. We will explore how to design social networking support to extend this project.

When I am not busy teaching, I direct the VMT research project. I have already published a number of papers related to online education (Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning or CSCL) and to the VMT project. We will be reading some of these in the course.

The course will be conducted very collaboratively, relying heavily on group efforts, in the spirit of CSCL. How to form teams is a key issue for social networking, and we will experiment with that in the course. The course will likely be different from anything you have experienced before. Be patient: it may take a while to understand what is going on (Learning in the future will not be like it was in the past).

This quarter, I am trying to use wiki technology heavily, because it seems like a potentially good medium for knowledge-building social interaction -- although it needs a lot more functionality. The course will take place primarily in this wiki -- with synchronous sessions taking place in the VMT chat environment.

The course structure, readings, schedule, requirements, grading, etc. are described in the Course Overview. That is a good place to start to find out about the course.

Week Zero - start up

  • Congratulations, you have reached the course wiki, where a lot of the course activity will be taking place. In one way of thinking about the course, the whole aim of the course is to develop (through the social interaction of you with the other students in the class) this set of wiki pages into an interesting hyper-document about designing social interaction software.
  • You should immediately register in the VMT chat room system at - http://144.118.94.187:8080/VMTLobby/ - Select a user name that you want to be known as in the course -- e.g., your first name or a nickname. Your user name and password should be the same in the chat room system and in the wiki. Enter a password and your preferred email address. Make sure that you are in Project: INFO 608 Spring 2007.
  • You should log into the wiki (a Log In link is in the upper right corner of your browser). You should always be logged in when you write anything in the wiki. Then you can sign what you write and time-stamp it by putting four tildes (~) at the end of your message.
  • You will be in the VMT Lobby, which lists all available chat rooms and provides some additional functionality, such as defining your profile for other to read about you. You can look around the Lobby and then go to the Lounge.
  • The Lounge is a regular VMT chat room with a shared whiteboard. You can enter chat messages or put drawings and text boxes on the whiteboard. If you are unable to enter the chat room after waiting a minute, try the Troubleshooting Section of the help pages available at the bottom of the left-hand menu of the Lobby.
  • A number of text boxes have been set up for scheduling the first online group meetings. Your name may already be listed in one of these boxes. You may leave it there or erase it and put your name (or your login username) in a different box that is scheduled for a time you would prefer.
  • These text boxes provide a way for us to form the class into project groups of 3-5 students in each group. The hope is that these groups will work well for the first two weeks of the course. Then we will select new groupings in week three and perhaps again later. You can think about how we should do the future group selections.
  • A lot of the course will be done by groups. The rules for groups are:
  1. Each group must consist of 3, 4 or 5 students.
  2. Each student should be in exactly one group during each week when a group project is due.
  3. Use this opportunity to meet new people. Do not join a group with friends you know from before.
  4. The group work should be done together online in the VMT chat rooms as much as possible. Do not use email, IM, phone calls, etc. to discuss course matters.
  5. All members of a group should contribute to the group projects. Use the group meetings to figure out how best to proceed with assignments and other parts of the course, to ask questions and to get feedback on ideas. If you have to miss a meeting, let other members of your group know (you can send them a message or leave a note in the chat room) and explain what you will do to make up for your absence.
  6. Everyone should check into their group room every day if possible for messages.
  7. Groups will probably have to meet about three times a week to (a) start to discuss the week's projects, (b) work on the projects and (c) finalize the group statements on the projects and post them to the wiki when the whole group is in agreement.
  • Once you are in communication with your groups, the other members of your group can answer most of your questions and help you out. If you have trouble getting registered or into the VMT Lobby or chat rooms, then email the instructor at Gerry.Stahl@drexel.edu

Week One

  • Carefully read the Course Overview.
  • Purchase the textbook. Be sure to get the revised second edition (2007). Read Chapters One and Two. Start your Textbook Journal as a Word document on your own computer.
  • Join a team in a VMT chat room. You will have two group assignments to work on together each week. Use your time in the chat room to decide how you want to approach the two assignments collaboratively. It is best to try to do most of the work together, rather than dividing it up. That way you can pool your skills and when you are done you will all be in agreement on what to post for your group product. Your group reading project and group design project are described below.
  • Go to the Group Reading Projects page. This will tell you what the reading is for Week One. Click on the [download] link to download the paper on "Computer support for knowledge-building communities". This is a classic paper that proposed CSCL-style learning. Of course, you will need to read this on your own and think about it. But you should come back to the same VMT chat room at an agreed-upon time to discuss the paper with your team. Compose a statement by your group about this paper in the chat room. Summarize the statement on the chat room whiteboard in the area entitled "Summary". When your whole group is agreed on the statement, someone should post it to the wiki by going back to the Group Reading Projects page and clicking on the [analysis] link. Be sure to put a heading on your statement indicating your team name, the names of the people in the team and the date and time. Once your team's statement has been posted, you should read the postings by the other teams. Feel free to discuss the postings by all the teams in the "discussion" tab for that page. (Of course, do not edit the work of another team). It is important to read the ideas of all the teams. When I teach this course in a classroom, most of the time is spent in giving team reports orally -- reading these postings is the equivalent way in which you will get a sense of the course as a knowledge-building community.
  • Go to the Group Design Projects page and click on the Group Design Project 1 link. Here you can read a description of your group design project for week one. For week one, you should collaboratively design support for social networking at the Koi Resort. The information you need for this assignment is displayed on the project page. Compose your design and a statement by your group about your design in the chat room. Summarize the statement about your design (in a way that will explain your design to members of other teams) on the chat room whiteboard in the area entitled "Summary". When your whole group is agreed on the statement, someone should post it to the wiki by going back to the Group Design Projects page and clicking on the Group Design Project 1 link. Be sure to put a heading on your statement indicating your team name, the names of the people in the team and the date and time. Once your team's statement has been posted, you should read the postings by the other teams. Feel free to discuss the postings by all the teams in the "discussion" tab for that page.

Week Two

  • Read Chapters Three and Four of your textbook. Continue your Textbook Journal.
  • You will receive instructions by email for joining your team in a VMT chat room. You will have two group assignments to work on together. Use your time in the chat room to decide how you want to approach the two assignments collaboratively. Your group reading project and group design project are described below.
  • Go to the Group Reading Projects page. This will tell you what the reading is for Week Two. Click on the [download] link to download the paper on "Share globally, adapt locally". This is a paper that proposed a digital library for educators more than a decade ago. It sketched interfaces for basic operations of a site for teachers to find, adapt and share curricular materials. This was an early vision of a social networking site at which users would build and refine a digital library of materials. Read this on your own and think about it. Come back to the same VMT chat room at an agreed-upon time to discuss the paper with your team. Compose a statement by your group about this paper in the chat room. Summarize the statement on the chat room whiteboard in the area entitled "Summary". When your whole group is agreed on the statement, someone should post it to the wiki by going back to the Group Reading Projects page and clicking on the analysis link. Be sure to put a heading on your statement indicating your team name, the names of the people in the team and the date and time. Once your team's statement has been posted, you should read the postings by the other teams. Feel free to discuss the postings by all the teams in the "discussion" tab for that page. It is important to read the ideas of all the teams to get a sense of the course as a knowledge-building community.
  • Go to the Group Design Projects page and click on the Group Design Project 2 link. Here you can read a description of your group design project for week two. For week two, you should collaboratively conduct a literature search for research on social networking and Web 2.0. You can browse the Internet and discuss what you find within the VMT chat room. For instance, you might want to go to [1] and read the section about Social networking/Internet social networks or go to [2]. Of course, you want to find information that is not so well known and that is particularly relevant to computer support for knowledge-building communities. So these sites can just be starting points for your team. Compose a statement by your group about your literature research in the chat room. Summarize the statement on the chat room whiteboard in the area entitled "Summary". When your whole group is agreed on the statement, someone should post it to the wiki by going back to the Group Design Projects page and clicking on the Group Design Project 2 link. Be sure to put a heading on your statement indicating your team name, the names of the people in the team and the date and time. Once your team's statement has been posted, you should read the postings by the other teams. Feel free to discuss the postings by all the teams in the "discussion" tab for that page.

Week Three

For week three, you will choose your own group project teams. Since group formation is an important part of social networking, in weeks one and two you should develop some ideas for how to conduct group formation within the online environment you are using.

Figure out and implement some ways to exchange information about yourselves in order to match up people in groups that are likely to work well together. You might want to take into account preferred meeting times and working styles. You might want to match similar interests or put together good mixes of skills that complement each other. Among the primitive functions that already exist in VMT to support this are the Lobby (profiles, messages), the Lounge (Chat, Whiteboard), the wiki (user descriptions, new pages). You may also get ideas from social networking sites, multi-user gaming sites, etc. Keep notes on what you try and how it works out.

Your group project in week three will involve reflecting on some of the issues and problems of supporting social networking online. So keep notes in week one and two on ideas for this based on your experiences with the Koi Resort design (week one), based on the ideas you came across in your literature review (week two), based on problems in forming your own groups (week three) and based on weaknesses you see in popular social networking sites (such as, MySpace.com, YouTube.com, FaceBook.com, Windows Live Spaces, Xanga.com, Hi5.com, Friendster.com, MyYearBook.com, Bebo.com, LinkedIn.com, Orkut.com and game sites).

Week Four to Ten

You will have another chance to form new groups for week six.

You should now know how to find your group reading projects and your group design projects for week three through week ten and where to post your group statements.

During the course, the goal is to develop Our page as a repository of the knowledge built by you and your teams. The purpose of the readings and projects is to help you to develop that knowledge through your collaborative social interactions in the course. Our page should be an artifact that people who are not in the course can learn from. You should work on Our page throughout the course and discuss it with your various teams.

Questions

If you have any questions or concerns about the course, it is probably best to post them at the discussion tab on the course's main page. For any personal or urgent matters, please feel free to email me at Gerry.Stahl@drexel.edu

Gerry 13:39, 27 March 2007 (EDT)


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