Tables that support collaboration?

Here are four tables our students made up. They had to design a proper shape that should support collaboration among a group (made of 4 persons). We managed to produce them, and now they will have to test this setting with a specific activity. The one-hour session will be videotaped and they will have to analyse the data.

Concerning the analysis, there are 3 options:

  1. analytical (detailed interaction analysis like in usability studies/ experimental research)
  2. synthetic (Who draws where ? Where are the laptops? Who talk to who ? Position & direction of the chairs?
  3. critical events (salient and significant)

The point is to conclude with: Pros and cons regarding to your table design + Suggestions for design a CSCW table (included groupware)

Here is the kind of question they should adress for the synthetic part:

  1. Does the table support group participation?
  2. Does the leader occupy a more central position? What’s the position of the ‘left over’ if any? Are some chairs moves away from the table? Do they exchange objects? What’s the orientation of bodies and chairs? Do they sit where you expected them to sit?

  3. How laptop usage interact with other activities?
  4. Do they move often their laptops for re-organizing their own space Do they move their laptops or fold its screen to facilitate interaction? How often do their turn their laptop to show its screen on the same-side partner or to another-side partner ? How much time is spent looking at the laptop versus looking at each other ?

  5. How do they use the table space?
  6. Is there some ‘dead’ zone versus an ‘interaction’ zone’? What are the objects present on the table, which one are often used? Do they share or exchange some objects? What do they draw on the table? Where do they draw? Who draws? Where do they put the other objects on the table (documents, mugs,..) ? Is there useless space? Is there a ‘focus’ area? Are there different phases in using the table space?