Design for Grounding
Grounding is one of the most important process that occurs during collaboration between people among a group. It refers to the effort of constructing and updating the information about team-mates involved in a joint task. Grounding consists in being aware of what is going on (and what was going on) as well as acknowledging the partner that understood what happened.
Besides the fact that spatiality constrains social interactions, we found in various socio-cognitive experiments that space helps collaborative problem solving in different ways :
- augmenting the performance to the task - modifying communication, and mostly simplifying referential/deictic acts. - improve coordination
Our idea is hence to emphasize the notion of Design for Grounding. By this concept, we refer to the design of virtual environments such as groupware, CSCL platforms as well as mobile computing environments. The thing is that people use space topology (i.e. space, place, the artifacts available ) in order to solve their problems/tasks. Therefore when designing a multi-user environment, one must ask three questions :
- What are the kind of social interactions are required for the joint task ? What are the forms of interactions that could ease the task ? - Which are the topological properties of space that ease those interactions ? For instance : which artifacts, where - How to design space with those constraints, pre-requisites ?