Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/CSCW and DCog
Every system must to have a goal. The goal of Wikibooks is to be a collaborative tool for authoring books that almost anyone in the world can contribute to. The system has to convey the message of its functions to attract users.
Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) offers a group based activity model that is focused on problem solving. As teams of system designers and users of those systems have become more and more distributed across different buildings, states and countries distributed cognition has become more important. Carroll states, "The value of DCog as an approach in HCI and systems design is that it describes human work systems in informational and computational terms; understanding the role and function of the representational media in use clearly has implications for the design of technology in the mediation of that activity, because the system designers will have a stronger model of the work.”
WikiBooks facilitates the goal of allowing people to create open textbooks and focuses on providing end-users the ability to communicate a topic and coordinate when and where an author should post content. The system designers of WikiBooks had to create a system that is a representative model of how people would approach and ultimately be successful at creating and sharing books. More importantly, the system capitalizes on a human need to share information.
With that said, WikiBooks is not a replacement for face-to-face interaction when groups need to collaborate. One feature that I don’t see are comments. WikiBooks does allow the author the enter inline comments but not collaborative comments during the writing stage. Without the ability for authors to critique/review work before “production” I do not feel WikiBooks is completely collaborative nor follows how users would work together from a DCog or CSCW perspective. While comments are not face-to-face communication, comments represent a system solution to interact with a person. I think that if multiple people were writing as a group they would meet in-person or online to review content, ask questions and make content decisions (maybe review comments).
WikiBook and Activity Theory (Magann Orth)
The wwikibook is viewed as a "collaborative platform" .The tool, wikibook, is a tool mediating verification of protocols in the real world. This is true. Each week, each students adds in thoughts or contributions therefore verifying the real world through text additions. Later, ,the theory states that novice users engage in focus shifts. I personally experienced this, when I was simply stepping into the middle of the wikibook to add my contributions. I even emailed the professor to ask - What is the point of the Wikibook? I was focusing on the tool rather then the activity itself, which is directly researched and supported through Activity Theory focus shifts.
The face to face equivalent would be sitting in a room, and everyone going around and speaking for 4-8 minutes. I think the Wikibook can facilitate and support novices in the classroom setting, as we may never transfer out of the 'novice' and focus shifts and transfer knowledge. I think if we were to change the tool or assignment a minor bit, we might start to encourage interaction similar to face to face . Therefore, if one week the assignment was to write a contribution, the next week to comment on another, we would engage in a more face to face like interaction. Even better, we may be assigned a 'buddy' or 'partner' and we have to post our own and comment on our buddy's post. This would be most similar to face to face interaction. In that case, we would be using the tool and computers to facilitate transparency and be an extremely enhanced CSCW space.