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Overcoming the Social and Technical Challenges to Virtual Scientific Collaboration The Birth of the NASA Astrobiology Institute as a Community of Practice.

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Presentation on theme: "Overcoming the Social and Technical Challenges to Virtual Scientific Collaboration The Birth of the NASA Astrobiology Institute as a Community of Practice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overcoming the Social and Technical Challenges to Virtual Scientific Collaboration The Birth of the NASA Astrobiology Institute as a Community of Practice By Gail Terry Grimes* and Claude Whitmyer** *Chief Executive Officer **Chief Learning Officer The University of the Future LLC (FutureU™) 529 Arkansas Street, San Francisco, California USA Copyright © Claude Whitmyer and Gail Terry Grimes. All rights reserved.

2 Goals of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Create opportunities for scientific interaction within/among scientific teams Create interdisciplinary “communities of practice” Encourage effective organizational culture Expand public education and outreach about Astrobiology To encourage and train next generation of researchers To communicate the science of Astrobiology 1.Deploy tools 2.Provide training 3.Continuously evaluate

3 3 NAI Today 700+ Members 15 Lead Sites 16 Lead Teams 100+ Collaborating Sites NAI Central (Administrative and Support Staff) International Associates and Affiliates Relationship with larger astrobiology community

4 4 Argentina Australia Canada Ecuador Germany Scotland Spain Britain Lead Sites Collaborating Sites NAI Today

5 Potential Benefits of a Culture of Collaboration Faster consensus building More “out-of-the-box” thinking Collective knowledge building/exchange Synergies of shared approaches and shared data Intellectual breakthroughs and innovative applications Reduced redundancy in funding projects Greater professional satisfaction

6 6 Differences of language and vocabulary Learning curve regarding shared knowledge Time pressure Degree of common interests/goals/purpose Uneven access to collaborative opportunities In-Group/Out-Group Intellectual property and attribution issues Continuum of Enthusiasm nay-sayers neo-phobes early adopters "power" users The Social Challenges of Virtual Collaboration Hypothetical Learning Curve

7 7 The Technical Challenges of Virtual Collaboration Difficulty of Use Platform Incompatibilities Limited “Bandwidth” (access speed) Uneven access to tools –Uneven distribution –Overbooking of shared resources Learning curve regarding technology Limited IT Support

8 8 FutureU Methodology for Introducing New IT 1.Engagement and Analysis (Ethnographic study of the population) 2.IT Industry Research 3.Product Demonstrations (Immersive approach where possible) 4.Product Pilots 5.Training and Follow-up Reminders (Technology skills and best practices) 6.Phased Organization-Wide Rollout 7.Delivery Process Evaluation

9 9 Engagement Throughout Embrace the Social Processes Embrace the Potential of Technology Support Social Processes with Technology Encourage a Culture of Collaboration Use Immersive Approach to New Tools

10 10 Embrace the Social Processes Develop cultural awareness Build consensus for choices Master the technical skills Identify the best way to use the tools Master these “best practices” Evaluate periodically

11 11 Embrace the Potential of Technology Provide faster communication Experience less travel Reduce long-term costs Create better data storage/retrieval Enhance collaboration

12 Support Social Processes with Technology Ad hoc Virtual Meetings –DESKTOP/LAPTOP/ROOM-BASED –REAL-TIME, ANYPLACE –ANYTIME, ANYPLACE Web-based Seminars and Presentations Document and Data Sharing Knowledge Building (shared, searchable information depositories) Online Polling and Surveying Bulletin Boards Automated Reminders and Reinforcers

13 Encourage a Culture of Collaboration Build consensus –Ask, ask, ask (What do you think?) –Tell, tell, tell (Here's what we've learned.) Introduce a collaborative tools design cycle Introduce communications tools via real situations, wherever possible (immersive approach) Include IT staff as strategic partners

14 FutureU’s 4Ds™ (Collaborative Tools Design Cycle) Discovery –Ethnographic research –Key stakeholder interviews –Institute-wide needs assessment –Collaborative tools research –Some demos Design –Demo promising solutions –Evaluate demo outcomes –Recommend promising products for pilot –Recruit pilot participants Development –Conduct pilots –Evaluate pilot outcomes –Identify best practices –Plan for IT support –Develop deployment plan Deployment –Phased roll-out (Institute-wide) –Evaluate deployment progress

15 15 5. Use Immersive Approach to New Tools Vendor demos Immediate application when possible Participant comments (Discussion/Survey) Patterns observed “Neo-phobia” / “Neo-philia” separated from the real shortcomings Next vendor demo improved by feedback

16 16 Findings Needs Assessment Social Findings Technological Findings Collaborative Tools Research

17 NAI Needs Assessment: Social Findings (From 164 survey respondents, out of 572) Ideal Values and Behaviors –Recognition of need for virtual collaboration –Common goals/objectives –Shared intellectual interests –Willingness to participate/work together/share resources –Regular team meetings/team cohesion –Communication across teams –Exchange of students/postdocs/senior researchers –Willingness to explore new technologies –Frequent use of technology by many –Minimum bureaucracy –Research reported to astrobiology community/public

18 18 Needs Assessment: Technical Findings (From 164 survey respondents our of 572) Hardware platform Internet connectivity Forward migration of operating systems IT support Technology skill level User requirements

19 19 Hardware Platform Nearly half of machines reported were Macs (128 out of 323)

20 20 Internet Connectivity Two-thirds of the connectivity options were high-speed: ISDN, DSL, Cable or T1/T3 (123 out of 186)

21 21 Operating Systems Windows 98 and MacOS 9 predominated –Based on survey response, probably the target level for Institute-wide compatibility

22 22 Pattern of OS Forward Migration Windows Macintosh

23 23 Uneven IT Support at Local Institutions One-fourth of respondents had only peer or no support (43 out of 160)

24 24 Mixed Technology Skill Level Potential for mentoring –Half of survey respondents consider themselves intermediate (85 out of 163) –One-quarter are “beginners” and one-quarter are “advanced” (39 out of 163)

25 25 Minimum User Requirements (identified by survey respondents) Cross-Platform Compatibility (Windows, Mac, Linux/Unix) Desktop Tools Web-Based Access Ease of Use High-Speed Access Reliability Security Privacy Reasonable Cost

26 26 Top 10 Collaboration Tools (from Needs Assessment Survey) Desktop Video Web-based NAI ing lists Web-based photo directory Web-based info repository/knowledge mgt system Scientific visualization/imaging capabilities Room-based videoconferencing system Wireless data sharing tools  field locations Web-based document sharing Desktop data sharing Live chats/real-time online meeting In Place In Process The Tools to Acquire

27 27 Collaborative Tools Research Nearly 100 features identified 200+ software products identified Checked for cross-platform compatibility 90 cross-platform packages selected for review Most promising packages identified Real-world demos held

28 Feature Categories Communication (Real-time and asynchronous) Document Sharing, Version Control Work Organization (Task lists, project templates) User Personalization (“dashboard” or “MySpace”) Distance Learning Delivery/User Interface Management and Administration Installation Model Training and Support Cost Factors

29 29 Promising Products Identified Video Conferencing Internet Presentations/Meetings Document Data/Sharing (version control) Knowledge Management/Information Repository (searchable) Collaboration Portals (full-featured)

30 30 Promising Products

31 FutureU’s Collaborative Tools Design Cycle 1.Discovery –Ethnographic research –Key stakeholder interviews –Institute-wide needs assessment –Collaborative tools research –Some demos 2.Design –Demo promising solutions –Evaluate demo outcomes –Recommend promising products for pilot –Recruit pilot participants 3.Development –Conduct pilots –Evaluate pilot outcomes –Identify best practices –Plan for IT support –Develop deployment plan 4.Deployment –Phased roll-out (Institute-wide) –Evaluate deployment progress

32 32 Example: Adoption of Real-Time Online Meetings 3-month pilot –31 unique hosts –1,333 attendee seats –358 meetings –averaging 90 minutes each meeting –Users reported made collaborative work easier able to produce more in the same amount of time supplemented regular meetings rather than replacing them Last 12 Months –333 unique participants –averaging 166 meetings per month –averaging 90 minutes each meeting

33 33 Working Together to Actualize the Virtual Institute NAI Central Collaborative Research Support Group IT Working Group FutureU Presented by –Carmen Holotescu –On behalf of Gail Terry Grimes, FutureU CEO and Claude Whitmyer, FutureU CLO Copyright © Claude Whitmyer and Gail Terry Grimes. All rights reserved.


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