Computer Supported Co-operative Work (CSCW)

Computer Supported Cooperative Working (CSCW)

The aims of the course are to examine the implications of using groupware technologies to support collaboration between members of a team. It will expose the strengths and weaknesses of selected synchronous and asynchronous collaboration tools, for collocated and distributed groups.

The course unit will introduce students to the social, organisational and design issues associated with the introduction of groupware technologies.


The module is structured into two main parts, covering theory and practice.

The theoretical part will cover:

  • Basic components of CSCW: technology, organisations, people and tasks, and their interrelations.
  • Introduction to principles of group psychology (social identity, group decision making, group polarisation, co-operation, competition) and their link to CSCW.
  • Groupware design.
  • Groupware evaluation.
  • Issues related to Online communities, Social Information Systems and Computer-Mediated Communication.
  • Issues related to Mobility, Culture and Accessibility.

The practical part will consist of:

  • Ethnographic evaluation of selected on-line communities.
  • Observation and analysis of group dynamics.
  • Dialogue analysis.
  • Integration of the results in the framework of CSCW.
  • Design exercise.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students should be able to

Academic knowledge:

  • Explain the concept of CSCW and its associated design problems.
  • Describe and classify the kinds of systems that have been developed to make CSCW possible.
  • Understand the theory of small groups as complex system and link it to CSCW.
  • Specify sociability and usability requirements for the design of on-line communities.
  • Demonstrate the ability to specify CSCW systems that maximise the potential offered by groupware technologies for supporting co-present and remote collaboration.
  • Demonstrate awarenessof the opportunities and challenges posed by mobile and community-oriented technologies for creating more accessible CSCW systems.

Intellectual skills:

  • Analyse groupware in terms of social dynamics and relate them to CSCW design issues.
  • Assess the appropriateness of particular groupware technologies for specific contexts.
  • Critical evaluation of groupware, including usability and sociability issues.
  • Practical skills: Collaborate with other people through the use of groupware systems.
  • Observe and understand group dynamics.

Transferable skills:

  • Demonstrate report writing, presentation and communication skills.
  • Improve deductive reasoning.
  • Improve team work.

Reading List


  • Preece Jenny. Online communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability. John Wiley & Sons, 2000.


  • Benyon David, Turner Phil and Turner Susan. Designing Interactive Systems: People, Activities, Contexts, Technologies. Pearson Education Limited, 2005.

  • Arrow Holly, McGrath, J.E., Berdhal, J.L. Small groups as complex systems. Sage Publications, 2000.
  • Dix Alan, Finlay Janet, Abowd Gregory D., Beal Russell. Human-Computer Interaction. Pearson Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2004.

Previous Courses

CSCW 2013-14 CSCW 2012-13 CSCW 2011-12