Working with others

Visualising the problem

By Alison Williams

Background

People absorb and process information in three different ways: auditorily, visually and kinaesthetically; the majority (up to 75%) have a visual preference (Fleming, 2006; Fleming & Baume, 2006). It makes no sense to have people with a strong visual preference, and possibly a kinaesthetic secondary preference, sitting talking to each other processing everything in an auditory way. Information is poorly absorbed and links may be missed.

This recipe sets out how groups of people can work together to think together visually: on their feet, moving around, being able to see what each other are thinking as they work together. Letting the images spark new connections, seeing how the images suggest other things, realising where things are not working because the images make it very clear.

Georgia Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering has a suite of rooms dedicated to problem-based learning (Newstetter, 2006). The rooms are small – approximately 6m by 8m (20 by 25 feet) – and the walls are covered from floor to ceiling in whiteboard material. Students at all levels use the rooms to work on complex problems set by the faculty. As they talk, they capture their thinking on the whiteboards, drawing graphs, diagrams, symbols and words. As the images build, so the ideas grow, are challenged, are changed, are built, and are critiqued. The level of learning and thinking is impressively high.

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Uncategorized, Working with others

Research interest visualisation

By Marian Dörk

Background

Effective research relies on cross fertilisation of ideas between different researchers. Considering the likelihood of researchers with different backgrounds working on similar or related problems in a research institution, it is unfortunate how often they may cross paths without knowing about each other or their research. Meeting around the proverbial water cooler may simply not be an option for researchers in different departments, based in different buildings.

This recipe, developed through conversations with Graham Earl, proposes a dynamic technological visualisation of the spatial and academic dimensions of co-located research activity. The visualisation juxtaposes researchers’ changing interests and locations on the campus. It reveals commonalities among people in their research topics, problems, and methods, prompting ad hoc brainstorming meetings, coffee breaks, and beer outings. Apart from helping people find each other, the visualisation can also be used to stay aware of the changing research landscape – both digital and physical – at a large institution.

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