Talk:Designing for CSCL

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This page is for discussion of issues about the Studying VMT Seminar.
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Gerry 17:27, 29 August 2011 (EDT)

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Displaying images

Someone asked how to display images. I clicked on the "Upload file" link to the left. Selected a file from my computer and stored it on the wiki server with a name of "MF_star.gif". Then I displayed various size images like this (click on "edit" to see the format of the size and label parameters): File:MF star.gif

File:MF star.gif
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Mixed classes=mixed feelings

Sorry if this seems offensive to our undergrads, but are any of my fellow graduate students concerned about the mixed class? Also, I for one would appreciate if somone could provide some examples of what is stated in the overview by "undergraduates will spend some of that time in class, it is expected that the graduate students will contribute more to the online assignments and wiki postings." Are these online assignments group assigments or individual assignments? Thanks JWhitlock 22:30, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
Not sure if your question is addressed to me or to other grad students, but I will try to respond to part of it. Both courses carry the same number of hours, but the undergrads have to spend time coming to and from class as well as participating in class. The undergrads in your work group will also be reponsible for giving a presentation on your group's findings in class most Tuesdays. So it seems fair that the grad students should take more responsibility for doing more of the footwork on the group projects. For instance, the first week's group project involves a sort of literature review. The grad students are predominantly LIS masters students and the undergrads are predominantly majors in technology and systems. So it is likely that the graduate students can take a lead in doing the literature search, making sure that the undergrads understand what is being done so they can report on it. On the other hand, the undergrads might be more skilled at putting the results into a graphical format on the wiki. The idea is that everyone will learn from each other. Similarly, although you will be maintaining your own journal about the textbook chapters, the other weekly readings will be the topic of group discussion and report. Many of these readings are part of the CSCL research literature and may be difficult for the undergraduates to grasp critically. Some leadership from graduate students in raising relevant issues and checking the argumentation of academic papers would be appropriate in such cases. The weekly design projects and statements on the readings are group assignments, unless otherwise stated in the Course Overview. I hope that clarifies somewhat. To a large extent, it will be up to each group to work out its procedures for collaboratively advancing the work of the course. Gerry 16:11, 2 April 2008 (EDT)

Synchronous vs Asynchronous

Don't get me wrong I am definitely intrigued by the unique learning opportunity this class presents, and I understand that there is an asynchronous alternative (albeit a statedly inferior alternative.) I still have misgivings about the synchronous requirement, I work fulltime and sometimes am required to unexpectedly work overtime. As this is only my 4th class at Drexel I am wondering if this is a common requirement in other classes? I was under the impression that the norm was for asynchronous, or am I mistaken? Please advise. --JWhitlock 22:51, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I think you touch on an important issue here. Please do not take the following as a definitive answer that is aimed to shut down the discussion about the point you made. I intend to clarify (if I can) why we are following a different approach in contrast to other online classes at Drexel. Indeed whether one should use synchronous or asynchronous communication tools to support online education is still an open research topic in CSCL and in the broader field of Learning Sciences. As you will have a chance to experience this first hand in this class there are merits in both approaches. What we have observed in prior classes is that doing design work in teams requires a level of coordination among team members that asynchronous tools do not support well. During the quarter you will need to get together with your teammates to flesh out design ideas in the light of what you have read and capture them in your prototypes as we proceed each week. The chat environment has some nice features (e.g. shared drawings, referencing support, screen capture) to support such meetings that the wiki component does not have. Moreover everything you do in a chat room is persistent, so you can go back and add more content anytime you like by visiting the same room. In other words you can use the chat room asynchronously as well. In my opinion the wiki offers better support in terms of presenting content in an organized way. I hope you will find the wiki useful to share your group's findings with the rest of the class, see what other groups are doing, and comment on other teams' work. But of course you will judge yourself at the end of the class whether this approach has worked for you or not. I understand the practical challenges involved with setting up synchronous meetings, but managing those challenges is part of the work involved in this class and I believe this is something worth overcoming given the opportunities for learning involved.Murat 11:26, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
I like what Murat wrote above. Murat is working on a PhD dissertation about how small groups work together in the VMT Chat room environment that you will be using. So he knows better than almost anyone else in the world what advantages this environment has over others. In this course, we are trying to use the best available technology for each aspect of the course. Some things you do on your own computer and email your individual paper. Other things the whole class does asynchronously in the wiki -- like posting the comments on this page. But some things, like small group collaboration are best done synchronously. More and more of the on-campus courses at the college (including all of mine) use synchronous small group work. If we translate this to an online course, I think it involves some form of chat. If you tried to accomplish the weekly group projects in this course in Blackboards discussion forums, you would either get almost nothing done in a week or you would divide the job up and do it in individual pieces, which would not be taking advantage of collaboration and collaborative learning. These are design issues in designing this course -- closely related to the design issues that the course will be looking at. I hope that you will come to understand these issues on many levels (pedagogical, technological, etc.) as the course progresses. The first week's reading, for instance, is a good place to start. Gerry 15:55, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
This is my 8th course in the MSLIS program at Drexel. When I read the overview of this course I was overjoyed. It matched my expectations and hopefulness in my original choice of Drexel's Online program. I have to admit to some disappointment in my experience to date with the Blackboard system as a framework for interaction and the purely asynchronous delivery of the courses. Initially, I liked the idea of the asynchronous dimension of the program. Now - I think a mix of synchronous and asynchronous approaches is useful for facilitating learning. I look forward with great hope in participating in this research on computer support for collaborative learning.
I too work full time and even every third weekend. I will have to manage the meetings with my workgroup to match my schedule. I shared my schedule in the chat room for my group. "Richard Porter" 22:49, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
As another student with a full time job (with somewhat unpredictable hours) I completely understand where you are coming from. I am a CS major and have taken most of my classes online. I choose to take online classes for the flexibility, and I agree that meeting synchronously is generally not very flexible. Most of my online CS courses required little to no synchronous meetings, and if they did were only 20-30 minutes for catching up and getting on the same page with the rest of the group. I am interested in trying a course with a different format and hope that I can use this different format to learn about HCI, but I also have fears about the course format. Mgribbin 22:55, 3 April 2008 (EDT)

At first I didn't think the group work would be too much of a problem, but now that it's Friday morning and only two other people have left any kind of message at all, I'm SUPER worried. This is especially because one of those 2 people said that they won't be available for the rest of the week after Friday morning (meaning not for the rest of this week). It looks like all of us meeting at the same time before Sunday will be impossible. What if no one else gets in touch before the reading and design projects are due?? Group work is always so stressful! What should I do? Lauren 09:10, 4 April 2008 (EDT)

First, I would like to thank Murat and Gerry for there thoughtful responses to both of the concerns I have raised. However, I am currently having the same experience and anxiety as Lauren when it comes to my group and by today's email from Gerry it sounds like others are as well. Unfortunately, there are just too many unknowns in this class and about our groups that can't wait until the end of week 2 to be realized, these same unknowns do not allow for me to realistically understand if I have the time, patience, and the commitment to be a successful contributor. This combined with the fact that the deadline for withdrawing from classes will pass before I can have a good idea if I can be successful or not is also adding to my anxiety. Which leads to my next point, I am seriously concerned about not only my success, but what about the remnants of my group who will be left in the lurch when I withdraw on the last day? It seems better to get out now than to have to worry about them as well, and avoid this disorganized chaos. Now that I have finished venting and pointed out all my issues I guess that I better suggests some possible solutions:
  • Consider delaying the due date of the first project, so that we all have time to get our footing and make the necessary connections.
  • Next time, consider having the online students, who have been ready since Monday AM, start some part of the work that is independent of the offline students, and then incorporate the offline students into groups during the second week to help relieve the anxeity of offline students.
  • In the future, time the start of the online students class sooner so we all have more time to get organized to meet the Monday deadline.
  • Provide better instructions with examples to all students on the best method to start communicating with each other. I have currently seen several different methods, some on the wiki, some on the chat, some via messages. This could also be alleviated by standardizing usernames so that people can find each other. JWhitlock 12:39, 4 April 2008 (EDT)
  • Here is another suggestion, incorporate a true discussion software tool, wiki pages like this make poor substitutes. Or at least provide a permanent link under the navigation menu so that others can find it. JWhitlock 16:48, 4 April 2008 (EDT)
  • Just wanted to try this. I am finding the same considerations as Lauren and JWhitlock...not a select time for all the people in my group to meet...I am hopeful that this will work itself out. Cool...the preview shows that this works. Jolene Jazzyjolene 12:17, 6 April 2008 (EDT)


Question - I am still waiting for my textbook. Is the "journal" portion of the work timed? In other words, do I have to have it in by a certain time or will anytime after my book comes in work? Thank you. Jolene Jazzyjolene 15:17, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

The journal is not timed (except for the eventual submission deadline). If the bookstore does not have it, you may want to order it online. Gerry 12:50, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Just to let you know...I got it...thanks jazzyjolene 22:45, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Helps if I read through the materials

Hello Professor Stahl,

I think I figured out my confusion. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

According to the HCI-CSCL: Welcome Page, last week was week zero, and we are now beginning week one as of 8 April 08. The course will now run through week 9.

Also, this means the course overview due dates will be off by one week as well. The course overview does not list the week we've just finished, week zero, but rather lists weeks 1 - 10. As a consequence, all the course overview due dates should shift down one week, i.e., week 1 due date is midnight, April 14.

This may have to do with the apparent blending of INFO 110 with INFO 608. I presume this post pertains to INFO 608 only.

No wonder I was in such a panic. Actually, the process should make great sense now, with time enough to actually do the work.

Thank you, Robert Krause

Robert, I am afraid you may have spread your confusion. Please get in touch with the members of your group. Joe and Greg gave a presentation in class today (which you might want to watch on the video) and they are very clear about where we are in the schedule. You should now be working on week 2.
Do not panic. There is still time to get everything done calmly. If you cannot figure things out from my emails and the wiki, you might want to watch the classes on video. As I said before, your teammates are your best source for answers.
The two classes are working together on the same schedule. The only difference is in the textbook and that INFO 608 students do not have to come to class. The INFO 110 students are your connection to what goes on in class.Gerry 17:23, 10 April 2008 (EDT)

Chat Room Help


  1. How does one delete a tab we create? I created a Web Page tab, which does not seem to work and I want to delete it. "Richard Porter" 17:19, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • Unfortunately there is no way to delete a tab once it is added. Murat 21:57, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • Is there at least a way to reinitialize a web page tab with the original web page? "Richard Porter" 22:17, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
      • I don't know whether this is possible once the url is set. I am afraid the tabs and the parameters for browsers are kinda carved in stone once they are set. If the room gets too cluttered with tabs, maybe you can create a new chat room to start fresh.Murat 00:03, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
  2. How does one refresh what is displayed in a tab window (non-whiteboard)? We have the wiki tab open on the wiki page for the week. It does not reflect updates made to the wiki. (We know to make the updates outside the chat). "Richard Porter" 17:19, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • I discovered this - it seems that the first instance of the chat room fixes the initial view of the wiki tab. if you click on any links within that view, the system stacks other views on top of the initial. you can tell that because the x in the upper left appears blue. if you click on the x it deletes that view . select a link again and you get the latest update on the wiki. "Richard Porter" 23:25, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • Refreshing urls on the wiki tab seems to be not possible. That's because once a url is shared it becomes part of the shared history for that browser tab. When you try to enter the same url the tab keeps on pointing to the old version it saved already. I tried to paste the url for the updated wiki page to another shared browser (e.g. the topic tab) to see the changes. But it seems you need to open a new tab everytime you want to see the updated version of the wiki (or exit the room and come back, which is unreasonable), which is very inconvenient and something I hope our colleagues in Germany will address in their next release.Murat 23:32, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
      • Murat, what I described above does work without the need to open a new tab. When the "x" referenced above appears blue you may delete that view to revert back to the original instance. Then proceed as I suggested to see an updated view. "Richard Porter" 00:16, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
        • Thanks Richard for proposing this trick. Unfortunately I couldn't see the updated page after I pressed the blue "X" button. I did the following: I entered a room. On a separate browser window I made some changes on the wiki page for that room and saved the page. Then I moved to the room and opened the wiki tab (which is pointing to the wiki page for the room). The tab was still displaying the previous version of the wiki page. To test your trick I entered a url like (I also tried clicking on a link to stack some urls to the history). This made the X button blue (since the new url was not published yet). When I pressed the X button it took me to the default url for that tab, but still I couldn't see the updates I made. When you exit the room and enter again, you see an updated version of the wiki page under the wiki tab. When you tried your trick did you ever quit the room and come back?Murat 13:50, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
        • Murat, I made an error in my description of what worked. "Richard Porter" 19:01, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
          1. Wiki tab fixed with first instance of the chat room.
          2. Modify wiki page outside the chat room window.
          3. On the wiki tab in the chat room select a hyperlink on the page e.g., "search" until the upper left "X" is blue.
          4. You should now see an updated view of the wiki page.
          5. select the blue "X" to revert back to the original view.
        • Richard, thank you very much for the tip. The links "navigation" and "search" does refresh the page as you mentioned (they are actually supposed to take you to another wiki page, but since the links do not work they point back to the original page and luckily update it for you:)). But when I clicked "X" it went back to the initial version (i.e. without the update). I guess that's why I was confused when I tried your trick the first time. To share the new view with other members you may post a chat message pointing somewhere on the updated page so that the new version will be added to the history of the tab for everyone (or alternatively one may ask everyone to click on the "search" link once in the wiki tab).
  3. Which tabs offer a shared view to all members in the chat? Are any new tabs we create shared? "Richard Porter" 17:19, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • Among the default tabs Workspace and Summary are shared whiteboards. Wiki and Browser point to the default browser on your system. These tabs display html pages much better as compared to the browser associated with Topic and Wiki tabs. However, your teammates will not be able to see what page you are browsing on these tabs. In other words, Wiki and Browser tabs are intended for private use. The private browsers at least allow you to keep track of the chat content as you are browsing through the web.
    • Topic and Wiki are shared browsers with limited capabilities for displaying html pages. They can handle very basic pages with text and images. Unfortunately they are cumbersome to use. What seems to be special about these two tabs is that you can make a reference to a portion of highlighted text (or a rectangular area on an image) from a chat message. I guess a sample use scenario may help to clarify the way these browsers work. Suppose you change the url of your topic tab to and press enter. You should now see the google page on that tab. Now click on the box with an arrow pointing down(attached to the url box, on the right). This opens up a drop down list including the pages you visited on that tab (i.e. your url history). You will see that is marked as "not yet published". This means that the change you made has not been communicated to your teammates yet. To make this page available to everyone you need to compose a chat message that points to a highlighted portion of this page. Once you post your message other teammates can see the page you are referring to by clicking on your message. This will also update the url history of all clients, so when others view the list of URLs they will see among the selections. When you post your message the browser goes back to the default URL for that tab, which I find confusing but unfortunately we cannot change the way this tab currently works. Another confusing thing is the way the button with the "X" works. This seems to be used to delete the intermediary pages that you have not published (i.e. shared) yet from the browser history. But once a page is shared as far as I know it cannot be removed from the history. Murat 23:32, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • The new tabs you create should be immediately shared with your teammates. Yet last quarter we found out that on some platforms the new tabs may not be visible (i.e. only the default 6 is visible). I heard that the additional tabs become a problem when you run VMT Chat with some Linux versions, but to be frank I don't know what is causing this inconsistency across platforms. So far we have tested the tabs on Macs and PCs and we didn't observe this problem. If you are using a mac or pc and still cannot see the new tabs, try changing your default browser (e.g. switch between IE, Safari, Firefox) and enter the room again to see whether you can see the extra tabs.
    • Designing a fully shared browser for collaborative use is a challenging design problem. If anybody is interested in this issue I'd recommend you to take a look at the links to research projects posted on the previous quarter's wiki page: link (look for the Ariadne project) Murat 23:59, 17 April 2008 (EDT)

Sharing Text Edit

  1. We tried creating a tab window to share google docs as suggested in the class on Tuesday. It did not work. We could not login. I thought this would be a problem with any application requiring a login. How can this be done as suggested in the class? "Richard Porter" 17:23, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
    • Unfortunately I couldn't make this work either. The chat tool uses a java library called JDesktop Integration Components (JDIC) to provide the browsers you see under the Browser and Help tabs. This is supposed to point to your local browser, yet it does not seem to make use of all the features of your local browser. The version of JDIC used by VMT Chat does not seem to support the type of session tracking Google Docs uses. I tested a browser with a recently updated JDIC implementation at this site and the tabbed browser demo allowed me to use google docs without any problem. So there is some hope for adding the possibility to use Google Docs in vmt in the near future, but I am not sure whether this will happen sometime during this quarter.Murat 23:48, 17 April 2008 (EDT)

The current system of browser tabs is a first working prototype. It has many limitations and problems. That should not limit your ability to design creative visions of support for collaborative research. You can imagine and propose scenarios in which Google Docs or similar multi-user editing tools (or Ariadne and similar multi-user web-browsing tools) could be used.Gerry 12:06, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
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