CCE Theses and Dissertations

An Investigation into the Effectiveness of a Portable Electronic Meeting System in a Co-located Computer Supported Cooperative Work-Environment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus


Within the confines of the office, collaborative technologies such as desktop personal computers (PCs), groupware, and local area networks (LANs) are effective tools used by geographically dispersed team members engaged in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) projects. Where team members are not geographically dispersed but are collocated, Electronic Meeting Systems (EMSs), comprised of desktop PCs, groupware and LANs, have been established in specially equipped facilities called Interactive Meeting Rooms (IMRs). Given the expense and very specialized function, MRs are not common facilities in American corporations. In addition! MRs are restrictive in that the team members are tethered to the MR. The problem investigated was to create a venue independent or portable EMS to determine the effectiveness of the portable EMS used by a team engaged in a colocated CSCW project. The portable EMS consisted of ThinkPad notebook PCs from IBM®, peer-to-peer groupware from SPAN works TM and a wireless LAN (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11 standard. The study participants were members of IBM Product Development Teams (PDTs). PDTs are the vehicle by which IBM products are developed and delivered to the market. PDTs are comprised of members from cross functional areas. Most of the PDT members are collocated with remote members joining the PDT meetings by teleconference. Two existing PDTs, selected at random, were the focus of this quasi-experimental study. The experimental PDT used the portable EMS Willie the control PDT did not. The means of the bi-Level independent variables, the experimental and control PDTs, as measured by the Measuring Meeting Success questionnaire, were compared using the independent Samples t Test to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between the two PDTs.

The results revealed that the difference between the PDTs was not statistically significant. As a result of these findings, an evaluation of the portable EMS, specifically the user interface of the SPAN works groupware suite, was undertaken. The SPANworks usability evaluation revealed problems with the groupware's user interface, specifically setup time and user interface. Tills study culminated in a set of recommendations to improve the usability of the portable EMS in general and of the SPANworks groupware suite in particular.

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