Open Cooperative Design in Studio Courses: The Challenges for Online Collaboration
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What is the role of collaborative tools in the context of open source engineering design innovation? In this paper, I describe ThinkCycle, an online platform that supports open collaborative design towards sustainable products. It has been used in the context of studio design courses taught at MIT. Usage patterns show several forms of intermittent online interaction but a lower level of content postings. Early results from an ongoing study suggest that while students find the online tools useful for sharing, documenting and problem solving, many perceive them as complex and an added overhead in the design process. To be more useful such collaborative systems must facilitate asynchronous lightweight interaction using existing modes of communication and design. Peer-review by external stakeholders and domain experts, not co-located with design teams, provide incentives for online collaboration.