Huang-2009 - Patterns and Challenges for MERBoard Elaine M....

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Patterns and Challenges for MERBoard Elaine M. Huang GVU Center, College of Computing 85 5 th St NW Atlanta, GA 30313 elaine@cc.gatech.edu [[THIS CHAPTER IS INCOMPLETE]] Proceduralization and MERBoard support for open-ended problem solving From conversations with designers and users of MERBoard, one pattern that becomes evident is that MERBoard was most valuable for group interaction and synchronous collaboration when standard procedures for a task were not in place. In particular, MERBoard was used most frequently for collaborative sketching and brainstorming tasks early in the missions, as well as in the pre-mission FIDO training trials. In these early uses, MERBoard offered two key benefits: flexibility and visibility. Flexibility was particularly important because protocols for accomplishing tasks had not yet been established, so users needed freedom to explore; visibility was of value because groups of people needed to work together on not only to accomplish the tasks but to collaboratively develop the processes through which these tasks would be accomplished. The makeup of the science team contributed the initial need for support for open- ended problem solving; because many of the scientists were brought in from external institutions, the team did not already have established collaboration practices that they could easily transfer to the new set of activities involved in the MER missions. Science team members were also working in an unfamiliar environment with tools and data that may have been unfamiliar. The many novel aspects of the situation likely contributed to the early need for face-to-face synchronous collaboration on using tools that supported this type of interaction and provided enough flexibility for ad-hoc and formative practices.
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Flexible Support for FIDO Tests During the FIDO tests, scientists and engineers used the MERBoard as a support tool while learning how to operate the rovers. In this case, MERBoard served as a learning tool; it was used by the scientists for documentation as the training progressed. For a task such as documenting the training, MERBoard was a good fit because there would clearly have been no established procedure for the documentation, and the whiteboard functionality imposed no structure on the note-taking or resulting product. Additionally, this was the type of task for which having a persistently visible representation of collective knowledge was of value. The whiteboard functionality of MERBoard was also used for brainstorming-type activities during these tests; MERBoard allowed scientists to do freeform sketches with a group, and share the designs using MERSpace both among the co-located scientists, as well as with parties at remote locations. The tool’s flexibility was found to be very valuable for these types of unstructured preliminary planning activities. MERBoard was also used during the FIDO tests for advance planning using the SolTree tool; the plans were then distributed via email and left visible on the board for reference and later editing. Although SolTree
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2012 for the course CS 91.550 taught by Professor Yanco during the Spring '11 term at UMass Lowell.

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Huang-2009 - Patterns and Challenges for MERBoard Elaine M....

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