Cognitive Work Analysis of Distributed Collaboration - Phase I: Work Domain Analysis

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This document is meant as a discussion for the Cognitive Work Analysis (CWA) of distributed collaboration. A CWA consists of multiple phases that systematically analyze the constraints for work, agents, organizational, and activities. Its intent is to guide the design of the virtual collaborative environment and tools to best support and facilitate the functions of the WoSCR community. These linked pages will present the current analyses for each phase in order to collect comments and input from the research team. 

Phase I - Work Domain Analysis identifies the activity-independent constraints of the work domain. A description of each of the levels in the figure is found below. Please provide your input and discussion for each level and any general comments, suggestions, or questions you might have.


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Work Domain Analysis: Five levels of Abstraction (Lintern, 2009)

Domain Purpose

Domain Purpose is the overarching intention that the work domain was designed to satisfy.  A purpose is a property of a domain (not of an actor) and is relatively permanent.

The primary domain purpose identified for the VCE is distributed collaboration and is defined as work jointly conducted across people separated by time and space toward a common goal.


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Domain Values and Priorities

Domain Values and Priorities are the principles, standards, or qualities to be maintained during execution of work in the domain. They can be identified with questions such as what are the values that shape how domain experts will use this system to satisfy the purpose, what abstract properties help domain experts establish priorities with respect to Domain Purpose, and what are the guiding concerns for domain experts?

The three components that are prioritized for distributed collaboration have been identified as communication, coordination, and activity awarness (Neale, Carroll, and Rosson, 2004). Coordination is defined as "...the attempt by multiple entities to act in concert in order to achieve a common goal by carrying out a script/plan they all understand" (Klein, 2001).

Activity awareness is critical for collaboration (Neale et al., 2004) to support knowledge of their counterparts, their tools and resources, their knowledg and expectations, their persistent attitudes and goals, criteria to evaluate joint outcomes, and current focus of attention and action.

Communication is the exchange of information and the means of connection between people or places.

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Domain Functions

Domain Functions are those functions sufficient to execute the work that will satisfy the Domain Purpose as constrained by the Domain Values and Priorities. Domain Functions are those work domain functions that must be realized, regardless of how they are physically implemented, to satisfy the Domain Purpose.

The identified domain functions for distributed collaboration are the collaboration model and stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing (Tuckman, 1965). See for a short summary or attached Tuckman article.

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Physical Function

Physical Functions are those functions realized by activation or use of technical devices or physical sub-systems (the physical elements of the system).

The physical functions identified are in four primary functional areas, 1) Explicit communication, 2) Information Gathering, 3) Shared Access, and 4) Transfer. The physical functions were derived from a paper on "Task Analysis for Groupware Usability Evaluation" by Pinelle & Gutwin, 2003. It is also attached.

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Physical Objects

Physical Objects are those physical devices and sub- systems within the work domain, useful for the conduct of work, that have material existence.

The physical objects included here is based on input from Austin Tate and a review of current technology for distributed collaboration.

Gerhard has made a suggestion to include search engines like Google.

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Distributed Collaboration

From a non-detailed look, this looks pretty thorough.  The map is easy to follow and makes sense to me.  Glad to see that some of the lit search I did, was helpful. 

Cheers, Debbie :-)