Computer-mediated communication in a distributed design studio
This paper introduces three case studies that implement the idea of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) strategies to share and reuse tacit design knowledge in a distributed design environment. Prototype software was developed and tested in three design studios in which design students sought advice from experts in remote locations. It provides tools for showing images, such as drawings and renderings, and for engaging in a written dialogue (chat session). The written and graphic artifacts of the conversation are stored in a Web-accessible database. The chat sessions included the identification, clarification, and explanation of real problems. Dialogue records provide evidence of a significant influence upon the students' approach to conceptual design. Content analysis of the comments from the experts provides qualitative evidence for the software's effectiveness. The participants shared past experience, professional recommendations, and intuitive expectations. This study also suggests that tacit design knowledge may be confidently captured and shared through careful strategic implementation of CMC technology in a distributed design environment. American Society for Engineering Education, 2006.