CDI2: Assignment 3

How would you do it differently?

The CDI course is based around considering a set of case studies and worked practical examples. Every instance involved teamwork in research and design, and also typically involved groups of users and social interaction. The Harmonium Project, for example, comprised a diverse range of designers, artists, scientists and industries, who together monitored and analysed the joint performance of a large choir and orchestra. CDI aims to promote agile development and constantly asks "how would you do it differently?". Assignment 3 will therefore focus on group dynamics. This final assignment is an opportunity for each individual to draw upon what they have learned so far, their shared contributions, and on how well the group functioned, specifying which aspects of its activity were successful and which less so. They should also reflect upon experiences obtained and described during DI internships and placements.

The assigned objective is to propose a collaborative design process which includes a technological system for monitoring/recording behaviour and biophysical responses; essentially, Computer Assisted Team Project Management which will facilitate inter-group dynamics and productivity. Ideally, your system should also be a research tool, allowing other researchers to access and analyse the collected data in order to further understand inter-group dynamics. You should take your prototype and idea far enough to evaluate with some data gathering and enable some data visualisation. However, complete data recording is not required. So rather than recording six streams simultaneously, try two. The expected prototype is a proof of concept, not a fully working system. You can then speculate about scalability if you wish.

You can assume the existance of specialised facilities and equipment if you wish but do not need to actually use them (you can just pretend - as always, ideas are the most important aspect of a CDI assignment). There is, for example, the Instrumented Meeting Room in Informatics:

For this project you are expected to self-organise into groups of six members. The one caveat is that there is a maximum of three (no more than two preferably) Second Year ADI/MFA CDI2 students in any one group. A core component should be to identify and summarise strong and weak points in group collaborative activities, drawing on your experiences from Assignments 1 and 2 as well as any other examples, along with any iterative changes made during the design process for Assignment 3. There should also be an attempt at some data capture, although this can just be a limited sample to demonstrate the principle.

Your proposal and report should be approximately 3000 words in length. There is no limit to the supplementary material you may include, such as images, illustrations and videos. References to the relevant literature should be included.

Task breakdown:

Develop a system to maximise teamwork efficiency, adopting the mantra "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" (Lecture 9). The monitoring process should involve objective and subjective data with easy-to-interpret results/output (triangulation - Lecture 10).

Stage 1: From a database of possible team members select a group of six to work on the project. For you this database is actually the CDI class. However, in broader terms you may want to consider skill sets, CVs and established connections (professional networks, LinkedIn, evidence of working successfully together before). Do you want to select individuals with specialist roles fixed in advance or choose a more versatile group to allow for greater flexibility?

Stage 2: Once the group is formed, discuss and decide on the different tasks required to achieve the project goal and then action them. Set a value of importance for each task or rank them in priority order. During this process you should attempt (or propose in a prototype) some way of objectively measuring individual input and biophysical responses. For example you could instantiate a system of key-stroke logging if people are using laptops, use smart pens and/or smart boards, record the amount of spoken dialogue (you could just use a stopwatch to evaluate the potential usefulness), monitor visual attention, analyse affective responses (such as facial microexpressions) and stress reactions (perhaps heart rate or skin conductance). You may also want to incorporate automatic text or speech analysis (you don't have to actually implement this in a working prototype, though). Remember, group work could be face-to-face or remote (by Skype, for example), but there is also likely to be large chunks of work done offline by individuals on their own. Try to test one or two examples of data collection (do suggest others though, but don't worry about the implementation).

Stage 3: Reach a consensus that the prototype design has been completed (this could be agreed failure if the goal is determined to be impossible). Write the draft of the main report, including a sample data visualisation.

Stage 4: Gather subjective feedback on the process from each individual. This should involve a self-evaluation from each team member indicating how much they thought they contributed to each of the tasks identified in Stage 2. There should also be a measure of how much they though each of the other members contributed. How you measure this is part of the problem that you have to collectively solve. Perceptions and priorities can vary, so a personal view may not match the average view of the group. Consider aspects of privacy and anonymity (it might be different for the "real" system that you are proposing). Also consider how you might define a fair share of the division of labour. This may not just be in terms of doing too much or too little but perhaps in terms of getting given (or left with) tasks that you didn't enjoy or that were regarded as "necessary but boring". Remember that there are individual differences to consider as one person might regard coding to be the best job possible while someone else would view it as hellish; so the question might really be "was task allocation appropriate?". Perhaps there should be a way of matching likes and dislikes with task demands.

Stage 5: Finalise the documentation for submission. If you want to fold the findings of Stage 4 back into the report then you can (but don't get caught in an infinite loop).

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