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Groupware prototypes and products support communication, allow for shared information, and coordinate activity in a given context. Traditionally, they have been classified by the support they provide for different kinds of time and place interactions. Figure gif shows the traditional classification framework for groupware.

Figure: A Time/Place Framework for Groupware

Figure gif shows a framework for groupware based on the degree of structure in the task and the group. Indeed, we might imagine collaboration efforts as being of one of four types:

More realistically, both the process and the group will fall along a continuum. This typology would provide yet another classification of group work beyond the traditional classification related to time and place. A group of three professors writing a grant proposal has low group structure which is in contrast to a project management team consisting of managers and engineers who authorize the task. For task structure, a brainstorming task has lower task structure than a proposal review process.

Figure: A Group/Process Framework for Groupware

Coleman and Khanna [18, page 5,] provide a layered model of the groupware environment. The framework shown in Figure gif is loosely based on their model, but explicitly extends it to account for toolkits and to distinguish between products that are fixed and ones that are extensible.

Figure: A Layered Framework for Groupware

Yet additional frameworks might be suggested. For example, collaboration changes in nature as the scope of the effort grows. Collaboration within a small group in a single department in an organization is easier from a technological point of view than collaboration across continents and organizations (enterprise wide collaboration). Similarly collaboration in terms of data sharing is different than collaboration in terms of document creation or information sharing. All of these frameworks need to be considered as we think about the functional requirements for collaboration software.

next up previous contents
Next: Research and Theory Up: Background Previous: Definitions

Michael Spring
Fri Jan 31 13:59:00 EST 1997