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Page history last edited by n.schadewitz@... 15 years, 3 months ago







A virtual group home supports storing, sharing, creating and modifying of design ideas and representations among distributed learning teams.


Cultural Context

Supports Collectivist Community Orientation and Hierarchical Authority Orientation Cultures. Bridges High and Low Contextual Communication Orientation, High and Low Uncertainty Avoidance Orientation, Universal and Particular Standard Orientation, Monochronic and Polychronic Time Orientation oriented cultures.


This pattern was successfully used to support Hong Kong/Korean and Hong Kong/Austrian design learning teams.



You have established a design learning community using GRAND OPENING. In this intensive workshop atmosphere, teams gained an awareness of the community in general and their international team members in particular. Using READY STEADY GO you might have enabled remote students to monitor community activities using the patterns COMMUNITY WATCH that incorporates remote students who could not attend the GRAND OPENING into the community.



The global team negotiated general goals and strategies to collaborate in this project in the collocated workshop. However, since not all members were present at the GRAND OPENING, more specific arrangements were left to be negotiated in synchronous communication with the entire team. In this initial conversation, team members became suddenly aware of their difficulties in explaining local developments in textual communication only.



How can one facilitate the continuous production and exchange of design ideas in distributed design learning teams?



While Polychronic Time OrientationandParticular Standard Orientation team members already looked into multiple possible design directions locally and came up with new ideas, Monochronic Time OrientationandUniversal Standard Orientation members approached the problem in a more structured and linear manner. They started to develop the original concept theoretically. Although this difference in approaching design learning doesn’t have necessarily a negative effect, team members still need to be aware of this variation. However, due to face-saving techniques in Collectivist Communities, it is considered rude to ask directly what the other side was doing and has accomplished yet. Furthermore, High Contextual Communication Orientation cultures infer such information from clues that the environment offers and eventually engage in conversations to gain a common understanding of the next steps. Team members who work on many particular ideas at once can accept a certain degree of uncertainty concerning the process and results. This is not the case for High Uncertainty Avoidance Orientation team members, who want to know about all options in order to gain a universal understanding of the design space and problem. If those cultures design together, there is a need to be aware of local processes and coordinate collaborate efforts in a central location that can be accessed at any time.


Technological Solution

Provide an online team space as central resource to manage all design project related contents. This group environment facilitates the storage, asynchronous creation and communication of design ideas and representations. 

Essential elements in this environment are storage, sharing and creation of design artefacts and documents. Asynchronous conversation and access to stored synchronous conversation histories are also important facilities in the group home. Ideally the group home integrates all those aspects within one online environment. Alternatively external online applications can be linked from the groups’ home.


Social Solution

Meeting in and communicating through an international home supports the collaborating cultures in constructing a global 'neutral' space or a 'third culture'.

The home is a shared space for the group's interaction and also a representation of the group's activities to other groups.



Such a group coordination and content management environment can give Collectivist Community and High Contextual Communication Orientation cultures the opportunity to interpret implicit information first before more explicit questions are asked. While Particular Standard Orientationcultures store many diverse design examples, Universal Standard Orientation cultures gain a more complete picture from those examples in the early stages of the design process. Universal Standard Orientation cultures prefer to gain a holistic view before they engage in a discussion. In case meaning cannot be distilled from the multiplicity of design representations, the exchange of asynchronous Low Contextual Communication messages can clarify the understanding of the shared representations and local design processes displayed online. Alternatively, a shared document that addresses all open questions can be created. A document or message thread can SUM UP the main issues identified in a STRUCTURED CHAT. In particular, Polychronic Time Orientation cultures benefit from refraining from a specific order of design events (i.e. someone creates a document and another person edits it thereafter) Moreover asynchronous messages enable Monochronic Time Orientation cultures to engage in SLOW THINKING.


Resulting Context

Design representations are shared using the ANNOTATED DESIGN GALLERY. SUMMING UP contents of STRUCTURED CHAT conversations can be kept in a shared document or shared as asynchronous threaded messages which support SLOW THINKING. To structure the shared contents in the group home, use the pattern WHO WHEN WHAT.


Related Work

Schummer at al proposed additional design pattern such as THREADED DISCUSSION, SHARED FILE REPOSITORY or SHARED EDITING that confirm above-mentioned solution (Schummer, 2003), (Schummer, 2004), (Lukosch and Schummer, 2006). A few researchers discussed benefits of threaded, asynchronous discussions for multicultural groups such as integration of less English proficient speakers into the discussion (Kim and Bonk, 2002), (Agerup and Buesser, 2004), (Al-Jarf, 2006).


<-- Design Patterns Network


Comments (3)

Anonymous said

at 1:10 pm on Jun 26, 2008

In Hong Kong/Korean collaboration the design pattern INTERNATIONAL HOME supported successful team coordination in the majority of teams. The year in which Hong Kong/Korean teams used a blog as shared team space was an exception. Due to technical and usability problems, Korean students refrained from using the blog to asynchronously communicate their design ideas and implementations but switched to e-mail and ftp file exchange. This observation was confirmed in related research that looked into information structure and interaction design of US-based blogs used by Korean users (Zhang:2007a).
Pertaining to Hong Kong/Austrian collaboration suggests that even though Austrian students are more Individualistic than Hong Kong students according to Hofstede's (1997) ranking of nations, a mixed Collectivist and Individualist Community collaboration might be supported by coordinating local activities using an INTERNATIONAL HOME. One reason explaining this phenomenon might be the large geographical and time distance, which complicated communicative coordination. Another reason might be Austrians' lower Individualism but Higher Uncertainty Avoidance behavior than Hong Kong, which makes the solution of coordinating local activities through an asynchronous online space much more likely to be successful. High Uncertainty Avoidance cultures want to gain control over ambiguous situations, such as remote collaboration. In addition, Austrian students also showed a more Monochronic Time orientation, suggesting a linear progression of designing collaboratively. Those two conditions can be supported by a shared team space, which offers control over ambiguous remote activities and captures the design process linearly as it progresses.

Anonymous said

at 1:11 pm on Jun 26, 2008

Comparing Hong Kong/Korean and Hong Kong/Taiwanese team coordination leads to another astonishing result. Although the majority of ostensible conditions for potentially successful collaboration through an online team home were absent in the Taiwan collaboration case, successful team coordination was achieved. As mentioned previously in community coordination strategies, communicative coordination was mainly used to synchronize local and remote team activities. Since Hong Kong and Taiwanese students met on a daily basis for synchronous communication, which was conducted in mixed English and Chinese language, local activities were coordinated instantly and synchronously. Moreover, due to this regularity, instrumental coordination through modifications of shared design representations was possible on a synchronous basis. Taiwan's desire to regulate uncertainty was accommodated. Therefore, using an asynchronous team space to store and share artifacts was less successful in Hong Kong/Taiwanese collaboration. Students preferred synchronous online communication over asynchronous communication, which was provided in the team space.

n.schadewitz@... said

at 3:44 pm on Sep 18, 2008

Using INTERNATIONAL HOME in separation from GRAND OPENING and COMMUNITY WATCH might still be a successful solution if the scope of collaboration is limited to supporting only individual teams instead of developing an online design community.

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