Messy Work in Virtual Worlds: Exploring Discovery and Synthesis in Virtual Teams
The challenges of engineering team collaboration—establishing trust, fostering productive informal communication, cultivating knowledge exchange—are often exacerbated in virtual teams by geographical separation as well as team members’ cultural and linguistic differences. Researchers have observed that powerful collaboration in collocated teams is supported by shared visualizations with which the team engages in informal, flexible and active ways. In studying virtual team interactions in a virtual world known as the CyberGRID, we see that just as with AEC collocated teams, shared visualizations were instrumental for the teams as they define, understand, and generate knowledge when working on interrelated tasks. Emerging from this analysis is an empirically supported theory that while avatar-model interaction supports mutual discovery, more messy interactions of brainstorming, knowledge exchange and synthesis requires flexible, active, and informal shared visualizations.
KeywordsGlobal Virtual Teams Collaboration Communication Visualization Information Technology Building Information Modeling Virtual Worlds
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