CRADL Lab member Benjamin Koehne has successfully defended his dissertation: Collaboration strategies employed in a virtual world while performing distributed usability inspections. Congratulations Ben!
Ben is working in Google New York as an User Experiences Researcher.
Geographically distributed collaboration has become the common way to work in many industries. Collaborative tools for supporting distributed work in complex work environments rely on information and communication technology to enable meaningful, rich interactions in the distributed team. Virtual world technology has advanced rapidly in recent years and public virtual worlds draw millions of users. Innovative, natural user interfaces have become more broadly available at lower costs, opening up virtual world technologies to a broader range of applications. The lower barrier to entry creates opportunities in CSCW to apply virtual world technology in collaborative tools for distributed teams. Yet, there are only few systems built specifically for collaborative activities using virtual world technology and our understanding of how users collaborate in virtual world environments is still very limited. In this dissertation I sought to discuss the implementation and evaluation of INspect-World, a collaborative tool for conducting and managing distributed usability inspections. In two empirical qualitative studies I observed, analyzed, and documented collaborative behaviors and strategies performed in the INspect-World virtual world environment. I found that users developed unique collaborative strategies in the contexts of team building, interacting on a level playing field, using virtual scaffolding mechanisms, and working with rules in the open virtual space. The qualitative findings represent an important stepping stone between the past and the future of applying virtual world technology in collaborative tools for geographically distributed work.