26 July 1998 ............... Length about 2,000 words (11,000 bytes).
This is a WWW document by Steve Draper, installed at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/HCI/cscln/cscln.html.
You may copy it. How to refer to it.
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Computer Supported Cooperative lecture notes
A student exercise (learning activity) by Stephen W. Draper.
(This exercise is
an "ATOM", one of
a set of ATOMS created as part of
the MANTCHI project.)
This is the home page for the exercise on shared lecture notes in
Q&A format. The exercise is D1 on the
HCI module of
the MSc in Information Technology
at the University of Glasgow.
This exercise has these essential features:
- It is an experience of cooperative work mediated by computer (by WWW and
- A further exercise on using the WWW on a real task.
- Exploring a question and answer format for learning materials: viewing
learning material as a reference manual.
This describes one of the coursework assignments for the M.Sc. in IT HCI
module. There will not be a paper handout for this, as it is a web exercise it
seems sensible to put the specification on the web. It is worth 2% of the
total marks, and will be referred to as exercise D1. The work will be done in
teams of 4 or 3 students, and will normally be marked as satisfactory (2%) or
not (0%). It is done to a deadline, which will be different for each team, as
The task is to create a short summary of the lecture to which the team was
assigned in a public document (a web page), that you feel would be useful as a
revision note for all students. The format requested is to find the key
question or questions which the lecture could be said to answer, plus a good
answer to it. By the end of the course, the collection of documents should be
a useful revision source for everyone in the form of a kind of reference
manual: the questions you might ask (or be asked in an exam), and notes towards
answering them. One team may be assigned to creating an overall index to the
set of 20 pages (one per lecture in this module).
Every student will be part of one team, assigned mainly at random to each other
and to a lecture. (There is no way to give everyone what they want; and
anyway this is like most jobs: you have to work on what you are told to, with
people you are told to work with, to a deadline that depends on the people who
want to use what you produce.) Almost no excuses short of a coma lasting
several weeks will be valid. If you miss the lecture, you need to discover and
make notes on what went on even more and will have a usefully detached position
as an editor. If you didn't understand the lecture, then you should still be
able to generate questions, and hopefully get answers from others in the class.
If you are a part time student, then your need to organise remote electronic
collaboration is all the more real: arrange phone calls at agreed times, edit
the web page from home, etc. The great thing about email discussion is that
you do your bit at the time that suits you; the great thing about the web is
that you create the document at your time, and others read it at their time.
Finally, interesting reports on difficulties encountered will be given credit:
this exercise is about CSCW (computer supported collaborative work) as well as
about the actual revision material.
The team is responsible for producing the page, but should draw as much as
possible on everyone in the class, so as to get the best content, and make it
useful to as many people as possible. To do this, besides discussing within
the team (face to face and by email), the team should conduct a discussion by
email or other tool with the whole class. Although I may contribute, I will
take at most a back seat in these discussions. Thus this exercise is in part a
chance to experience CSCW and its advantages and difficulties. Each page
should end with a comprehensive acknowledgement list of all who helped in any
A timetable for a team might be:
- Get the team into the lab together at the first chance after the lecture,
and put together the first version: preferably within hours of the lecture.
This is so it is fresh in your minds, along with what you were unclear about,
and so you can start a discussion while it is fresh in others' minds.
- Send out an email to the whole class (it-hci@dcs) giving the URL of the
draft page, and perhaps asking about the points you particularly want help
- The team thinks about it that night, and probably improves their draft the
- Throughout that week, respond to any email discussion promptly, and
incorporate good points into the web page. The more skillful you are at
managing discussion -- getting it started, getting it to continue, getting it
useful and to the point -- the easier it will be for you to create excellent
- Seven days after the original lecture, I will examine the page and decide on
whether it gets a pass mark.
- You may continue to get discussion and improve the page indefinitely: it is
your part of a public service, and others will be composing other pages to help
The team creating the index has a slightly different job. The index should
offer access both by which lecture (1 to 20), and by question (sort the list of
questions extracted from all the pages; perhaps structure them by major topic).
But the team should also look out for useful and important questions that do
not seem to belong to any one lecture, and create their own page if necessary.
Periodically they should discuss with others whether access is convenient
through their index, and ask for suggestions for "missing questions" (and
answers). Although the index should be immediately updated with each new draft
page announced, this assignment is otherwise much less time critical; but the
disadvantage is that it goes on all term.
[This section not written yet]
Model format for a page
It should have some more instructions on basic actions:
Email and web; take copies of source, edit, return URL of new draft.
Teachers' page about this ATOM.
Ideally everyone would get to work with their favourite people, and pick
the lecture they most wanted to work on. This is impossible because there
would be clashes. But still more because organising it would take too much of
my time. Allowing sign-ups on a first come first served basis is easy for me,
but would do little to optimise everyone's preferences. This is all true of
most such problems (e.g. projects). But it is more difficult here because of
the need to start the system working at the first lecture, before any
opportunity whatsoever for preferences to act.
My procedure will be:
- In lecture one, get everyone to sign on: that will give me a provisional
list of names to work with.
- I will hand pick the first 2 teams (for week 1), perhaps after asking if
there are any volunteers. [In fact I got volunteers, having said I would be
picking victims if I didn't.]
- Ask everyone else to submit to me by email messages with their preferred
teams, plus whether they are fairly certain they are going to take HCI; plus a
preference if any for which lecture they prefer to take.
- Over the first weekend, I post a list of teams and lecture assignments.
- I will allow later changes only in the form of swaps pre-agreed by all 8
students (all of the two teams involved).
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