Graduate School of Management Course Syllabus

BAD 64046/74046
"Computer Supported Group Collaborative Work"

COSU.GIF (30208 bytes) This syllabus is available at

KSUColor_sm.jpg (9711 bytes) 2002, the number of Wireless Application protocol (WAP)-capable devices (mostly mobile handsets) used to access the Internet will exceed the number of devices with wireline access. (From Technology Forecast 2001-2003, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP)

Spring 2003 6:15 - 8:45 PM W and via the Internet 208 BSA 10620, 10653 Geoff Howard Office: A427 BSA    E-Mail:      Phone: 330 628-5707 (Home Office)

OFFICE HOURS: 2:00 - 4:30 Wednesday, or by appointment. You're strongly encouraged to get to me by e-mail ( which should usually yield a very fast response.

COMMUNICATING: E-mail is the main way we will communicate in the course outside of the classroom. Not that you can't come to office hours, but the e-mail is usually faster and more efficient.

TEXT: "Collaborative Information Technologies," IRM Press, ISBN 1-931777-14-4. This text is on order and will be in DuBois and in the campus bookstore. We will also use much web-based material, available from links in the Course Schedule. (Note that the entire text is also on the CD included with the book.)

COURSE CONCEPT: Until about 15 years ago, meetings and group work in business organizations have been conducted face-to-face, and were supported by pencil and paper technology. (The only exception to this was "conference" telephone calls.)  Next, computers were introduced into meetings as decision and consensus-seeking mediators, supplementing pencils and paper and flip charts. This technology came to be called Group Decision Support Systems. As the Internet became significant in the mid-1990s, GDSS participants began to be geographically dispersed, and the idea that meeting participants and group workers needed to be physically co-located rapidly crumbled away. Since then, place-displacement work has exploded to involve activities far in excess of simple meetings, resulting in emergence of radical new business activities such as virtual corporations, telework, offshore programming, and others in the future that we can only dimly foresee. Some have predicted that these organizational forms and the technologies that enable them constitute the next step in industrial macro-evolution, and that impacts as radical as de-urbanization and complete sociological restructuring of organizations and entire societies may result in the long term. The course is designed to explore all of those issues from both practical and theoretical viewpoints, providing you with a good understanding of how you, as a business manager, can take maximum advantage of these new practices for collaborative distance work in your organization while simultaneously recognizing their threats and costs. To provide a good grounding in understanding the present and forecasting the future, the course will include a moderately-detailed technology update, drawn from web-based materials. 

COURSE DESIGN: Two separate but related activities will proceed in parallel throughout the course. First, we will devote about half of each class to the technology update portion, in which we'll study the basics of important new technologies that relate to the Internet. (We'll begin the technology update with a quick survey of technologies that span beyond the Internet, for the sake of perspective.) Second, we'll spend about half of each class on the topics explained above, all of which have something to do with place-displaced collaborative group work, as enabled by the Internet.

DISTANCE COMPONENTS OF THE COURSE: The course is about place-displaced work. Accordingly, we will DO place-displaced work by holding some of our classes in distance-mode. You'll be able to access the material from home using a web browser and we won't meet on campus on those selected class dates.

DELIVERABLES: We'll discuss these the first class night. In brief, you'll produce one written product and one presentation.

1. In Class Mini-Presentation

You will select a topic relevant to place-displacement work and present that material in the form of a lecture including, if appropriate, exercises and quiz/review questions. Each of these would be about 45 minutes in duration. You could do this individually or in groups of two. Examples of possible topics include:

Offshore programming
Legislative policy relevant to place-displacement work
Virtual corporations – concepts
Virtual corporations – case studies
Group Decision Support Systems
Pitfalls of Collaborative Work

2. Written Product

This "written" product will actually be electronic so that we can post it on the web site. You can choose one of the options below (except for the Ph.D. students -- see below), with the only constraint being that you do choose a topic area that is different from your in class mini-presentation topic.

Guest Speaker, with Written Supplement

You could find and then bring in a guest speaker who has managerial responsibility for and involvement with some form of place-displaced work. You would supplement the guest’s appearance with written notes on her or his presentation, and a transcript of the presentation, which we could then place on the web site for the class.

Web Product: Mini-Papers

You could select any topic that is in any way relevant to place-displacement work and produce a set of web material, a traditional research paper, or both, on your selected topic. This paper would not be presented in class as a presentation. Something on the order of the equivalent of 15 double spaced pages would be about right.

Web Product: Case Studies

You could write a case, either fictional or real. For the fictional one, you would put together something that looks somewhat like the "LXS" offshore programming case that is on our course web site. For a real case, you would research the media and, possibly, interview managers, to report the actual real-world activities of a corporation that is engaged in place-displacement work, such as telework or offshore programming or extensive offshore outsourcing.

Web Product: Library-Building

You could, as a project, select a topic area and concentrate on building up a very significant collection of materials relevant to that topic. These materials would all have to be in, or convertible to, electronic form, and would need to include copyright releases, if applicable, so that we could put them on our course web site. We would expect a very significant quantity of material, and diverse content including book excerpts, research articles, corporate reports, application notes, magazine and newspaper articles, vendor ads and notes, legislative and legal materials, and possibly even working software or software demos.

Conference Paper

If you submit a paper (or any other form of conference submission, such as a tutorial) to the  ACM 2002 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, this will be counted in place of doing a presentation and a written product -- it would count as 50% of your course credit. Your submission does not have to be accepted at the conference in order to get this credit.

Doctoral Students: Research Proposal

If you're in the course for Ph.D credit, then you must write a reserach proposal relevant to place-displacement work. I'll work with you individually on these.

GRADE WEIGHTS: (Negotiable.)

Item Weight
In Class Mini-Presentation 25 %
Written Product 25 %
Midterm 25 %
Final 25 %


The Following Policies Apply to All Students in this Course

  1. Students attending the course who do not have the proper prerequisite risk being deregistered from the class.
  2. Students have responsibility to ensure they are properly enrolled in classes. You are advised to review your official class schedule during the first two weeks of the semester to ensure you are properly enrolled in this class and section. Should you find an error in your class schedule, you have until the date shown on the University web site (official academic calendar) to correct it with your advising office. If registration errors are not corrected by this date and you continue to attend and participate in classes for which you are not officially enrolled, you are advised now that you will not receive a grade at the conclusion of the semester for any class in which you are not properly registered.
  3. Academic Honesty: Cheating means to misrepresent the source, nature, or other conditions of your academic work (e.g., tests, papers, projects, assignments) so as to get undeserved credit. The use of the intellectual property of others without giving them appropriate credit is a serious academic offense. It is the University's policy that cheating or plagiarism result in receiving a failing grade for the work or course. Repeat offenses result in dismissal from the University.
  4. For Spring 2003, the course withdrawal deadline is Saturday, March 22, 2003. Withdrawal before the deadline results in a "W" on the official transcript; after the deadline a grade must be calculated and reported.
  5. Students with disabilities: In accordance with University policy, if you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester or when given an assignment for which an accommodation is required. Students with disabilities must verify their eligibility through the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) in the Michael Schwartz Service Center (672-3391).


1. Survey and understand the history and background of legacy technologies for group work as supported by computers, including teleconferencing, Group Decision Support Systems, and related activities.

2. Review key research that applies to the above legacy technologies, focusing on the capabilities and limitations of those legacy technologies.

3. Understand how the advent of the Internet has greatly expanded the scope and definition of computer-supported collaborative work.

4. Survey the emerging kinds of place-displacement group work currently being conducted on the Internet, including offshore programming, telework, virtual corporations, and others.

5. Develop an understanding of the capabilities and limitations and potential futures of these new place-displacement technologies

6. Learn the salient technical principles of contemporary technologies that presently support place-displaced group collaborative work on the Internet

7. Develop supportable projections of the likely futures of each of the major categories of place-displaced collaborative work, together with the implications for business opportunity, career opportunity, and economic expansion.

8. Develop and support an assessment of the threats and other possible negatives associated with the major categories of place-displaced collaborative work.

9. Examine the current and likely future macro-impacts of place-displaced work, including environmental impacts, de-urbanization, and changes in social patterns.

10. Learn the current impacts of law and public policy on place-displaced group collaborative work both in the United States and beyond, and prescribe idealized policy sets that will be most supportive of future growth in these technologies.