Group Support Systems: a Cornucopia of Research Opportunities 1
Robert O. Briggs [email protected]
Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr. [email protected]
2 Bruce A. Reinig [email protected]
1 Nicholas C. Romano, Jr. [email protected]
3 Ralph R. Sprague, Jr. [email protected]
Center for the Management of Information MIS Department University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona 85712
Dept. of Information & Systems Management HK University of Science & Technology Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong 3
College of Business Administration University of Hawaii Honolulu, Hawai’i 96822
Abstract For many years we have heard rumors of the downfall and death of GSS research. In this paper we will argue that the nay-sayers are wrong, as many have been in other disciplines in the past and that they would propose to stop seeking answers before the most important questions may have even been asked. We describe some of the many unanswered research questions left to be addressed in Group Support Systems research. We identify potentially 250 additional doctoral dissertations, each of which would make a substantial contribution to our understanding of GSS, and likely reveal deeper and even more insightful questions than those which we pose here as mere examples. There is a veritable “cornucopia” of GSS research opportunities within these questions that are yet to be answered. We hope to broaden the readers’ perspective on GSS research opportunities and convince our audience that GSS research, far from being dead, is not even comatose, but in fact is alive and thriving.
Introduction At the close of the Nineteenth Century a learned physicist asserted that the discipline was all but complete; He stated that other than a few minor details, nothing else remained to be learned or discovered. Of course, those “minor details” were things like the Theory of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and Nuclear Physics, among others. In 1943, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., Chairman of IBM, said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” We
all know today that this was a slight underestimate on old T.J.s’ part. Simon Newcomb, the eminent astronomer said “flight by machines heavier than air is unpracticed and insignificant, if not utterly impossible,” eighteen months before the Wright brothers first flew. Dr. Dionysis Lardner, a professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at University College, London, said “Rail travel at high speeds is not possible, because passengers, unable to breather, would die of asphyxia.” He also said “No large steam ship could ever cross the Atlantic,” just two years before the Great Western was the first to make such a voyage. Negative predictions and prognostications about the future seem to abound throughout history, but fortunately for us some of them were wrong or extremely shortsighted. Our discipline of MIS is not immune to such dubious speculations. As the millennium nears, assertions have begun to circulate among IS academics that Group Support Systems (GSS) research is dead, and that other than a few minor details, nothing new remains to be learned or discovered. For over a decade researchers have been designing building, and testing GSS [14, 17, 20, 39, 40, 59]. Research from both the field and the laboratory has shown that teams using GSS can become far more productive than would otherwise be possible [11, 14, 17, 22, 31, 34, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 52, 55]. Independent case studies across several organizations around the world have demonstrated that teams using GSS have reduced their labor costs by up to 50% and have reduced the number of calendar days in their projects by as much as 90% [12, 16, 22, 37, 44].
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Although not yet widely deployed, there have already been several million users of GSS. It has grown beyond the academic sandbox to become a key resource in more than 1500 organizations, many of whom report millions of dollars in cost savings and cost avoidance from its use [44, 55]. More than 140 GSS experiments have already been reported in the GSS literature , as have dozens of field studies . With what has been accomplished thus far, are there really any important issues left to study about GSS? We assert most emphatically, yes. We argue that in fact there are a veritable cornucopia of research opportunities in GSS in the form of unanswered research questions. There are still hundreds and perhaps thousands of unanswered questions in GSS research. Existing studies have merely touched the edges of the vast domain of collaborative technology. With this paper we hope to bring to light some of the wealth of GSS research opportunities that have yet be exploited. What is a GSS? GSS are suites of tools, processes, and techniques designed to leverage the intellectual capital of groups and thereby increase their productivity. A group support system eases the cognitive load of teams working in concert toward a mutual goal. Sometimes team members “all talk at once” by simultaneously typing their ideas into a network of computer workstations. The system immediately makes all these contributions available to other members of the team who can read them on their individual screens. This allows the entire team to hear from every member in about the same time it would normally take to hear from only one person [32, 39]. At other times teams use a GSS to cooperate while separated in space and time. Sometimes teams use GSS anonymously to raise and explore new and perhaps unpopular or politically risky issues that a member might otherwise be reluctant to voice for fear of reprisal from peers or superiors. Anonymity empowers participants to evaluate an idea based on its merits rather than on the personality of the contributor. Other teams find it useful to make fully identified contributions, so team members can assess the expertise of the contributor, or so they can hold one another accountable for action items. A group support system is a suite of software tools, each of which focuses team efforts in some unique way.  A brainstorming tool, for example, encourages a team to diverge from its customary thinking patterns, to go farther afield to find as many new ideas as possible in a brief time. In contrast, there are other tools that encourage a group to converge quickly on a set of key issues, or to explore a defined set of issues in great depth and detail. A GSS tool kit may also include tools to support team writing, polling for consensus, evaluating alternatives, and other activities for working together towards a goal, whether a team is working at the same time and in the same place, or is separated across time and space. 
GSS Research Questions This paper presents a series of research questions organized into major categories. The list of questions in each section is by no means exhaustive nor mutually exclusive; in fact we assert that the categories are not exhaustive. However, these questions may be sufficient to persuade the reader that GSS research should continue to provide a wealth of opportunities for academic endeavor for some time to come. Idea Generation Issues Many early GSS studies focused on improving the idea generation processes. All aspects of the problem solving process require idea generation. Groups produce more ideas with a GSS than without one [19, 24, 25, 54]. Research has seen results wherein groups working with a critical evaluative tone produced more ideas than those with only an affirmative evaluative tone . Studies have demonstrated that groups who split a problem into subproblems generated more ideas than those that worked on the problem as a whole. Groups provided with a basis for social comparison produced more ideas than those without such a basis of comparison . These findings are both interesting and useful and employing them in the lab and the field has resulted in many successful GSS interactions. However, many additional questions about GSS idea generation are as yet unanswered. For example, it might be useful to know the distribution of good ideas over time so that teams can make informed choices about how long to spend on idea generation. At what point do the best ideas come? In the beginning, at the end, or are they evenly spaced throughout? Why is this the case? What might it cost a group in terms of good ideas if they stop idea generation too soon? What if they stress the participants, adding in the element of time pressure? Both Field and lab experiences suggest that the facilitation method used with a GSS can have a strong effect on idea generation [1, 9, 15, 18, 29, 52, 59], but to date only three or four generation techniques have been rigorously explored and explicated. What other facilitation techniques might improve idea generation? Do differences in leadership approach result in differing distributions of good ideas over time? Are those differences important to group productivity? There are a variety of electronic tools to support idea generation . Some start each participant on a different electronic page, while others start participants on the same electronic page. What type of interface is best for supporting electronic idea generation processes and under what conditions? When is a group outline more effective for idea generation than a single level list? How does the trade-off between quality and quantity play out during idea generation with a GSS? Can
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silly ideas inspire good ones? Is there a point at which the volume of bad ideas may overwhelm the cognitive resources of the participants? Convergence Issues Groups produce hundreds of ideas with electronic brainstorming tools in a short time, some are good, others are bad. A great deal of research has been published about idea generation, but practically nothing has been written about group converge on the best ideas among the large volume of ideas generated. Convergence may be a slow and painful process . Is there an optimal process for converging on the best ideas? How does a group define what constitutes a “good” idea? What processes might help a group converge on the best ideas more effectively? What leadership techniques might ease the pain of convergence? When is chauffeured list building more effective than simultaneous team list building? How might artificial intelligence aid the convergence process? In recent years researchers have begun to investigate supporting geographically separated and asynchronous team work. [23, 33, 38, 47, 48, 52, 53] They report that convergence is much more difficult with distributed teams than with face-to-face teams. Why is this so? What can be done to improve matters? Questions about Deliberation Idea generation and convergence are critical in all aspects of teamwork. However, there is much more to teamwork than just idea generation. [4, 32, 45] Consider the problem-solving process: sense-making, alternative generation, alternative evaluation, choice making, implementation planning, results monitoring. Each of these steps is critically important, and yet very little is yet known about the use of GSS to support each of these phases. Do groups who use electronic brainstorming tools explore the problem space more completely? Under what conditions to they converge on an optimal understanding of the problem? Under what conditions do they select poor explanations of their problem? What leadership or facilitation techniques lead to optimal exploration of problem space? Is there a single optimal approach to such exploration, or does it vary by task, by group, or by technology? Which alternative evaluation techniques are effective? Does that vary with the task at hand? Under what circumstances do groups using GSS make better choices than those working without GSS? Which GSS tools and techniques improve choice making and which hurt it? Does it depend on the technology at hand? The team? If so, how? Why? What combination of technology and techniques will produce the most effective plans? How can GSS be used to break an impasse? How can GSS be used to move teams toward consensus? What can be done with GSS to move plans forward? To track progress? To hold team members responsible for one another? This deliberation process has emerged out of
millennia of human experience, but that experience was unsupported by electronic technology. Is that process still optimal? Are there ways of short circuiting the process with technology? Questions of GSS and Information Access One important function of a GSS is to give the group ready access to information -- information stored online and information stored in the minds of the group members -- but only a few groundbreaking pieces of research have examined information access in the GSS environment.. Information has value to the degree that it is timely, accurate, and complete. However, its value is offset by the cognitive costs of searching for, assimilating, and remembering the information. Does GSS give a team access to more information more quickly? More accurately? More completely? At what cognitive cost? Can GSS be used to reduce the cost of finding information? Assimilating it? Retrieving it? One function of information is to increase the probability that an actor will expect the outcome the actor actually obtains when choosing one course of action over another. Do teams using GSS expect their outcomes more frequently than teams who do not use GSS? Does that depend on the task? The team? The technology? Another function of information is to increase the actor’s awareness that possibilities exist. Do groups using GSS consider more alternatives than those that do not use GSS? Are they more effective at selecting among them? Why or why not? Helmut Krcmar of Hohenheim University in Germany defines information as “A model of something, for some purpose.” The same information can be modeled in many different ways. Can GSS be used to present models that are more easily assimilated? Can it be used to produce such models? Do groups using GSS seek different kinds of information than those who do not? What is the effect of that difference? Do people who use GSS purpose different things than people who do not? Is that good? Always? Why? GSS and Communication Issues One of the benefits GSS brings to a group is the ability to communicate in parallel, which may allow people to share information and expertise more quickly.  Is that sharing as complete with GSS as it with other media? Under what circumstances do groups choose to attend to the contributions of others? Under what circumstances to they ignore one another’s work? Does this change over time? Does it change over tasks? Are there processes for increasing the degree to which individuals attend to one another’s ideas? When is this a desirable outcome? Are there advantages to serial communication that are lost during parallel communication? What are the political implications of a channel where nobody can shout down an opponent?
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Do individuals express the same ideas on a keyboard that they would express orally? Are there new and better means of expression than those that now exist? Does a message carry more weight if it appears on a screen than when it enters the ears? If so, under what circumstances might that difference be desirable? Undesirable?
Questions about GSS and Goal Congruence In order to be productive a team may use a GSS to reduce the cognitive loads associated with communication, deliberation, and information access. However, no technology can improve the productivity of those who choose to be unproductive . Individuals hold many, sometimes mutually exclusive personal goals: To survive and thrive, to be accepted and loved, to look good, to hold a job, to get ahead – the list is endless. Teams accept many tasks. People will only make an effort to achieve the team goal to the extent that the team goal is compatible with whatever private goals are salient to the individuals on the team. How can a GSS be used to establish and maintain goal congruence? Can it be used to surface hidden agendas? Is that desirable? Always? Can it be used to change the salience of personal goals? Anonymity is a goal-congruence issue that has received some attention in the GSS literature. A great deal of work has been done to examine the effects of anonymity on idea generation [10, 24-27, 49, 56]. Teams produce more ideas when working anonymously than when identified. There is some thinking that this is the combined result of two goal congruence effects. Researchers have posited that people may be reluctant to propose ideas that might garner negative reactions from peers or superiors. Allowing them to work anonymously may overcome this reluctance. While many papers have offered this explanation, no study has yet been done to test it. Will the evaluationapprehension model stand up to rigorous scrutiny? Social Loafing research suggests that people generating ideas don’t expend as much effort when working anonymously as they do when working identified [42, 49] This may also be a goal congruence issue. Do people make more effort when identified to avoid social sanctions? Do they value credit for their work more than they value the output of their effort? Why? How can GSS be built or used differently to overcome social loafing without sacrificing the other benefits of anonymity? Other than increased ideation, what other benefits are there to anonymity? What are the costs? Which team processes are helped by anonymity? Which are not? Organizational Implications of GSS New technologies often change the way entire industries do business. The business processes were often not even imaginable before the advent of the technology.
For instance, American Hospital Supply placed computer terminals at their customers’ sites, and revolutionized their industry. Before the advent of computerized transactions a bank could only be open to the public a few hours of the day. With ATM cards we now do much of our banking in the parking lot, and some if it at the grocery store. What new organizational forms are now possible with GSS? What new organizational forms might be desirable? What impact will those new forms have on organizational structure and power distributions? One of the key changes we have observed in the field is that many managers and knowledge workers use GSS to support meetings where they actually do work rather than just planning to do work [38, 39]. What effect might this change have on the productivity of a team? An organization? Are organizations doing more work with fewer people because of GSS? Unanswered Questions about Process Gains and Losses In 1991 it was noted that GSS might offer certain process gains to a team, and that these gains were, to some extent, offset by process losses. Table 1. lists some of those gains and losses. To date few of these gains and losses have been explored in detail. Most have been subjected to no rigorous academic investigation. To what extent are these factors important to the outcomes of a GSS meeting? To what extent do they interact? To what extent are they cumulative, or mutually exclusive? Table 1. Group Process Gains and Losses Sources of Process Gains More information Synergy More Objective Evaluation Stimulation Learning
Sources of Process Losses Air Time Fragmentation Production Blocking Attenuation Blocking Concentration Blocking Attention blocking Failure to Remember Conformance apprehension Evaluation apprehension Free Riding Cognitive Inertia Socializing Domination Information Overload Coordination Problems Incomplete Use of Information Incomplete Task Analysis
 Ethical Questions Teams may use GSS to make choices about the use of scarce resources, and these choices may have permanent consequences for the participants and for non-participants. What ethical issues must be considered in the use of GSS? When important decisions are made by groups of unidentifiable individuals and who is accountable? Who
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should be rewarded? Who should be blamed? Are these issues different because the GSS is being used or are they the same issues that already arise in standard human interactions? The transcripts of electronic meetings are more permanent than spoken words. Who owns these transcripts? The participants? All the participants? The organizations for whom they work? Who has the right to destroy the transcripts? Under what conditions may the transcripts be made public? Under what circumstances should an organization be held liable for an anonymous contribution to a GSS session? Team Telework Issues The emergence of the global market place may drive the development of GSS over the next decade. More and more geographically distributed teams are using GSS and other collaborative technology to facilitate team telework [47, 48]. While the demand for team telework grows, little is known about how to actually conduct team telework. How can leaders move a group through a process? How can technology replace the rich non-verbal cues of face-to-face work? What cues should be replaced? Should they be directly replaced, or are there technological surrogates that differ substantially from the original cues? What must be done to create a sense of presence among people who are geographically separated? Is a sense of presence necessary? Is it desirable? Are there tasks that are best done face-toface? Are there tasks that are best done distributed? Which are they? Why? What can be done to motivate the efforts of geographically distributed team members? What can be done to monitor their motivation? Do the same features and functions that support face-to-face groups support geographically separated groups just as well? What new features and functions might be required? Why? How must GSS be designed or used differently to support synchronous distributed work than to support asynchronous work? What changes in GSS technology and group process will be required to support collaboration for teams distributed along the dimensions of time, space, and computing resources? What are the requirements for a distributed Group Support System, that extend beyond those used in face-to-face systems, in terms of data content, interface presentation, and tool and resource features? How do the roles of facilitators, team leaders, and participants in distributed settings change from those in face-to-face settings? Cultural and Cross-Cultural Issues The vast majority of GSS research has focused on GSS usage in American and European corporate culture. What would GSS look like if designed specifically for use in Europe, Asia or Australia? Will Japanese teams require different GSS support than German teams? How about teams with members from both Japan and Germany? Much of the work on cross-cultural teams is bilateral, dealing with how members of one culture can adapt to better interact with members of another culture. Can GSS provide a new
common ground for interaction among several cultures? What if group members don’t share a common language? What if group members don’t share a common set of culturally based group norms? When does an international video conference make more sense than a trip around the world? When doesn’t it? How does the role of the facilitator change from one culture to the next? What affect does culture have on the adoption of GSS? What affect does culture have on satisfaction with GSS technologies? Can GSS be used to maintain a sense of togetherness among distributed multicultural employees of a multinational corporation? Given that over 140 GSS experimental studies have been published, how many of these findings can be generalized to Asian, South American, Australian, African or European cultures? What is the role of GSS in the global village? Group Negotiation Questions Recently, a probation officer suggested that GSS could be used to facilitate communication between members of opposing gangs. He suggested that the anonymity would allow the rival members to speak to each other not as a gang representative but as an individual which may allow them to find a common ground from which to resolve their differences. Do GSS have a role in this type of meeting environment? What is the potential for this type of application? What would a GSS look like if it were designed for gang leaders instead of corporate leaders? What other types of group therapy might have members who are reluctant to express themselves and could potentially benefit from GSS? GSS and Business Process Reengineering Recently, advances have been made in the development of specific GSS tools to support the process of business reengineering such as the Activity Modeler and Data Modeler. How effective are these tools? What is the role of GSS in reengineering? To what extent can GSS be integrated with other reengineering software such as CASE tools and Workflow tools?? Leadership and Process Structure Issues Research has shown that even with a single GSS tool, a single, subtle difference in leadership method can lead to massive differences in group dynamics and productivity . What other leadership methods might lead to similar differences? Under what conditions do teams perform better under a leader who uses GSS to structure and focus group processes? Under what conditions do groups perform better when they use the GSS with no leader and no structure? How can leaders use GSS to uncover hidden agendas among group members? Is uncovering hidden agendas necessarily a good thing? Why or why not? What effect does it have on group process for the group to surface hidden agendas?
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Adoption and Diffusion of GSS What causes an organization to adopt GSS? Research shows that teams using GSS save 50% to 70% of their labor costs and reduce their project cycle times by 90%. However, technology cannot benefit those who choose not to use it. Despite the massive successes of GSS in many organizations, the technology is diffusing slowly. Given the payoffs, why isn’t GSS technology spreading faster? Are the organizational changes surrounding the introduction of GSS too painful? Are the GSS tools too awkward or technically complex for most people to use? Are there affective issues that hinder diffusion? Social issues? Is it simply a lack of information or understanding that keeps people from using the technology? For GSS to be an organizational success, one must plan for and overcome resistance to change. In The Prince Machiavelli made an insightful observation about change which may be relevant to GSS research: “There is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes to the state’s constitution… .The innovator makes enemies of all those who have prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.”  Thomas Edison saw the difficulty of change as well: “The Inventor can’t do it all. You’ve got to change people. We have an enormous capacity to invent super-machinery. But our desire to install the device is weak. Human inertia is the problem, not invention. Something in man makes him resist change.” Thomas Alva Edison,. February, 1923 Does the technology violate powerful political interests within organizations? Or is it simply that, all things being equal, people resist change? In either case, what change management processes will work? What incentive and social structures could be created to ease the transition? What payoffs would be sufficient to offset the cost of change? How can we measure the benefits and costs of GSS? Some speculate that the champions of GSS within an organization gain high visibility, and receive rapid promotions away from the GSS-related job. This strands the technology without a champion, making the diffusion process self-extinguishing. Is the process really selfextinguishing? If so, what can be done? GSS and Electronic Commerce GSS tools are now available on the World Wide Web, allowing people from different organizations to join a collaborative problem solving session with minimal technical effort. What role might GSS take in supporting interorganizational cooperation? What role might it play in fostering electronic commerce? For example, a major management trend is the development of "virtual corporations" - sets of separate organizational entities tightly
linked by strategic alliances. Can GSS be instrumental in defining, nurturing, and monitoring the relationships on which these alliances are based? How are GSS best structured and used for these purposes? Intranets promise to redefine traditional corporate computing. GSS may become part of an integrated I/S architecture, with one common interface, instead of a separate application. How would that architecture be structured? What relative roles would be played by GSS? Collaborative Modeling and Simulation Often people use GSS to collect and collate information about the parameters of their problem space or their solution space. Recent pilot efforts have demonstrated the technical feasibility of rolling team-generated parameters into models and simulations to support design and decisionmaking activities. What processes are suitable to optimize team parameterization of models? How do teams perceive the information in the models? Are team-generated simulations more accurate or more complete than individually generated simulations? Can teams build simulations more quickly than individuals? Do teams make better choices when supported by team simulations? Under what circumstances? GSS Software and Network Architectures GSS software has evolved through four architectures: Mainframe, DOS/flat-file/LAN, Windows/Database/LAN, and now WEB-based client-server. [47, 48] To date no rigorous academic investigations of GSS software architecture have been conducted. How can one optimize the software architecture to assure rapid interface response for users, while accommodating low-speed and intermittent data communication channels? Is client-server the optimal software architecture for collaborative technology? Why or why not? Should a client be thick, with most of the processing done at the client end, or thin, with most of the processing done at the server? What are the tradeoffs for making this choice? Where should the data reside? Locally? Remotely? Both? Should the system push data or poll for it? How should the architecture of the GSS accommodate other applications? How could the architecture be designed to support rapid prototyping of new tools? GSS for Crisis Response When responding to a crisis, a leader must quickly bring the right people together— those with the right information, expertise, and leadership ability. These people must continuously develop and evaluate possible courses of action in response to the unfolding situation. Cognitive processes for people working under time pressure are substantially different than for people working at a more deliberate pace. Do current GSS tools provide adequate support for crisis response? What new tools might be required? What new processes might be required for teams in
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crisis? People under time pressure are far better at comparative decision making than at judgment. Do current GSS tools and techniques take best advantage of this situation? Individuals working under time pressure are better at naturalistic decision making than at rational decision making. In naturalistic decision making an expert perceives key cues, matches them with internal patterns, performs an immediate diagnosis and recommends a single solution. With rationalistic decision making the decision maker generates and evaluates alternatives, then selects a course of action. However, some problems are large enough that no single decision maker has all the expertise or information or resources to solve the problem alone, and so decisions must be made by groups. Can GSS be used to move groups closer to the naturalistic model of decision making? Is that desirable? Will that effort require new GSS tools? Techniques? Virtual Workspace Issues A great deal of research has been published about teams using GSS in the same place at the same time. Recent field investigations suggest that people using GSS to support distributed collaboration have difficulty maintaining a sense of the group and its processes [47, 48]. It may be that the use of Virtual Reality (VR) interfaces [50, 51, 58] for GSS could alleviate many of these difficulties. The VR could provide an avatar that represented each member of the group and which provided clues to what the group members were doing. What information should a group VR environment provide? What features and functions should it supply? Should the space be represented realistically – with gravity, walls, floors, desks, light switches, wall-sized screens? Should the virtual space be represented in ways that have nothing to do with physical space – no gravity, floating objects, embedded data? Why or why not? How should the team navigate through the space? Should avatars be able to pass through one another? Should they be able to establish private communication channels for their principals? Team Interface Design While it is clear that subtle differences in interface can cause major differences in group dynamics , little systematic research into GSS interface design has been done . Shepherd, Briggs, Reinig, Yen, and Nunamaker  showed that a single horizontal line on one GSS interface led to an increase of 23% in ideation productivity. When combined with a new facilitation technique, productivity increased 63%. What other subtle differences in interface design might lead to similar or even larger improvements? How are team interfaces different than individual interfaces? What hidden costs might be associated with these increases in productivity? How much more productivity might be possible?
Shared Drawing Questions With a few notable exceptions, most GSS technology is text based, yet we observe that people often sketch and draw when they are working face-to-face. Developers have begun implementing shared whiteboards and shared graphics tools. Under what conditions are these tools more useful than text based tool? There is little descriptive or prescriptive information available specifically about sketching. Will computer-based tools encourage more drawing? Will this make a difference for a group? What theoretical basis could best govern the development and use of shared drawing tools? Communication Theory? Esthetics Theory? Productivity Theory? All three? Something else? For what kinds of tasks will shared drawing be useful? Useless? Why? Must shared drawing tools be different for representational drawing and conceptual drawing? How important is response time for clear communication? Should drawing capability be included in text tools? Should one be able to mark up text with drawings? Why? Are people more efficient at creating drawn artifacts with electronic tools or manual tools? Under what conditions would that matter? How might a group take advantage of the ability of an electronic tool to time-scroll, which is to undraw and redraw an image? Under what conditions do shared drawing tools make a team more effective? Cohesive? Satisfied? When might a team prefer a symbol-and-arrow tool to shared whiteboard, and vice versa? Should there be a single shared cursor? A cursor for each participant? No cursor? Should WYSIWIS be enforced? Optional? Ignored? Why? What new team processes might become possible that were not even contemplated before the advent of shared drawing tools? GSS in the Classroom A growing community of researchers is beginning to explore the use of GSS to support learning. [2, 3, 5-7, 28, 46, 56, 57] In the past three years the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science has published dozens of papers on the topic. Experience suggests that cooperative learning can be substantially enhanced through the judicious use of GSS. They are also finding that successful use of GSS requires a fundamental shift in the thinking paradigm of the instructor. Experience shows that standard classroom instruction and standard in-service training have been ineffective for conveying that paradigm shift. The presence of a researcher in the room for a year has been an effective, but very in very inefficient method of inducing the change. Is there a shorter, less expensive way to achieve the change? What can be done to cause a paradigm shift among teachers? Will GSS have to become more simple to use? Will instruction have to become more rigorous? The military uses boot camp to instill new values in recruits. Will a boot camp approach work with teachers? What other innovative approaches might apply? What course materials might enhance the use of GSS in the classroom? Who should create those materials? Teachers? Vendors? The learners
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themselves? Research on GSS-for-learning has focused on engaging the learners in solving real problems. Are there other approaches that might be effective? How do we measure whether the GSS interventions are actually increasing learning? Conclusion At this point we must leave our recitation of GSS research questions, not for lack of issues but for lack of space within this paper. We hope we have broadened your perspective on GSS. For many years some have continued to pronounce the demise of GSS research. Yet in this one paper we have identified the potential for at least 250 additional doctoral dissertations. Each dissertation would make a substantial contribution to our understanding of GSS, and each would be likely to uncover deeper and more interesting questions than those posed within this paper. Rhetorically speaking, there are 1001 questions yet to be answered. GSS research is like a cathedral whose foundations have been laid and whose supporting pillars are under construction. Still ahead are the high stone walls, the vaulted ceilings, and the tracery stained glass windows. No single craftsman can build a cathedral. Many craftsmen over several generations complete the wonder. So it is with GSS research. No single person or university will answer all these questions, though all will contribute in important ways, adding their own bricks to the wall.
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