Using participatory evaluation to support collaboration in an interdisciplinary context

Clough, Gill; Conole, Gráinne and Scanlon, Eileen (2010). Using participatory evaluation to support collaboration in an interdisciplinary context. In: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning 2010, 3-4 May 2010, Aalborg, Denmark.



Many research projects involve teams of researchers working together to create shared outputs that advance the state-of-the-art knowledge in a particular field. Often, such teams are distributed geographically, with members drawn from different institutions and different domains of expertise. In an increasingly networked world, researchers are presented with a variety of ways to connect with each other, and it is often assumed that because it is easy to link-up together, that effective collaboration will follow. This is not always the case. Just because we have access to collaborative technologies does not mean that we will necessarily use them, or that if we do use them, that we will be able to do so effectively.
This is a particularly important issue for pan-European projects who assemble partners not only from different institutions, but also from different, and sometimes conflicting methodological traditions. Bringing together research partners from diverse research domains presents both opportunities and challenges. Partners need to learn from each other so that they can collectively produce a finished product that uses their combined knowledge to push the research boundaries. However it can be difficult to work together across disciplines, to develop a shared vocabulary and understanding, and to overcome the barriers of distance and language in order to collaborate effectively.
This paper describes how the challenges of interdisciplinarity and distance are being addressed on an EU funded project, xDelia. xDelia stands for Xcellence in Decision-making through Enhanced Learning in Immersive Applications. It aims to use wearable sensors and serious games to identify and address the effects of emotional regulation in financial decision making in three fields; professional trading, private investment and personal finance. Over a period of three years, partners from seven institutions will work together, sharing their expertise in financial decision making, games design, cognitive science and bio-sensor technologies. In order to collaborate effectively, partners need to achieve a shared understanding of their common goals and of what each research team can contribute. This paper describes the practical, participatory approach adopted by the xDelia team, demonstrating how the collaborative knowledge sharing activities initiated at the start of the project have resulted in a range of collaborations, and analysing the role that mediating artefacts such as collaborative technologies have played in supporting this knowledge creation.

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