Current Projects

Interdisciplinary Assessment of the Use and Impacts of the Blacksburg Electronic Village

This project focuses on the development of new evaluation methods and combinations of methods to measure the use and impact of computing and communications infrastructures, in this case the Blacksburg Electronic Village. The project will employ a variety of methods including community surveys, detailed interviews, session logging, a participatory evaluation forum, and a variety of psychological scales. It addresses a variety of key issues about communities and community networks:
    Who participates in community networks?
    What are the networks used for?
    How are local business activities and opportunities changed, and how direct a cause is the network?
    In what ways does access to local government information, or to public decision-making change?
    What are the consequences for community life, and for community health and well-being?
    How is participation in community life greater or more diverse?
    Do people feel safer in a community networking context than in the general Internet context?
    Do they feel their personal data is safer?
    Can a community network enhance self-perceptions of collective self-efficacy in the community?
    Has the social capital of the Blacksburg community increased as a consequence of the BEV?
    And what are the causes and effects of unequal participation throughout the community?

Support: ITR/SOC: Interdisciplinary Views of the Blacksburg Electronic Village
NSF-IIS 0080864, $458,166 over two years (Jan 2001 - Dec 2002)
PIs: John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson; Investigators: Albert Bandura, Lynne Dunckley, Andrea Kavanaugh, Robert Kraut

Collaborative Software Techniques and Technology for Future Naval Command and Control

We are part of a large project trying to leverage new technology across campus to help the Navy define future directions in computing and communications.  Through the past 2 years, this project has focused on design and development of software components to support a variety of synchronous and asynchronous collaborative activities. This ongoing work includes infrastructure to support secure replication and persistence of shared data, as well as client-side components that support communication, authoring, and monitoring tasks. One of our current focus tasks is the creation of software to support interactive presentations, and evaluation methods to assess various approaches to group formation and support in interactive presentation tasks.

Support: Navy Collaborative Integrated Information Technology Initiative (NAVCIITI)
ONR approximately $2,000,000/year for 5 years; September 1998-September 2002
PI: K.L. Reifsnider (my role is as one of 13 investigators; funding is about $200,000 per year)

Universal Access to Programming

Much of our work is based on the expectation that in the future more people will use computing more creatively and more extensively. The approach of this project is to support the creation of community-oriented visual simulations by middle school students working with community members as mentors. Software tools, example simulations, and instructional curricula will be developed and evaluated. The researchers will try to determine whether cross-generation community-oriented programming collaborations can be an effective technique for enhancing access to programming. The visual simulation projects created will be shared with the larger community through the MOOsburg community networking infrastructure developed by the Center for Human-Computer Interaction under prior support from the Hitachi Foundation.

Support: ITR/EWF: Universal Access to Programming -- A Cross-Generation Learning Community
NSF-EIA 0081102, $278,746 over two years (Jan 2001 - Dec 2002)
PIs: Mary Beth Rosson, John M. Carroll; Investigators: Connie Anderson, Alan Blackwell, Allen Cypher, Larry Tesler

Building a Library of Usability Case Studies to Support HCI Education

Professor Rosson and I have recently published an undergraduate textbook for human-computer interaction Usability Engineering: Scenario-Based Development of Human-Computer Interaction.  Unlike previous approaches, our book make extensive use of case studies. Indeed, about half of the book involves an extensive case illustrating usability engineering techniques in the development of MOOsburg and applications of MOOsburg. This project is creating a Web library of case studies, drawn from a wide range of development contexts.

Support: Case Study Resources for an Undergraduate Course on Human-Computer Interaction
NSF-DUE 0088396, $64,747 for one year (Jan 2001 - Dec 2001)
PIs: Mary Beth Rosson, John M. Carroll

Activity Awareness in Computer-Supported Collaboration

People working collaboratively must establish and maintain awareness of one another's intentions, actions, and results. Understanding the role of awareness in computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) and developing effective software tools to support awareness are keys to the future success of CSCW systems.

This project will develop and evaluate a suite of awareness tools to support coordinated planning, action, and outcome analysis in collaborative science learning. Classroom-based field studies will be coordinated with a series of laboratory investigations, to benefit from both the scope and ecological validity of a field study and the analytical focus and control of laboratory studies. Laboratory studies will adapt task simulation methods, including the use of confederate participants, from the social psychology of communication.

A key scientific objective is to investigate and develop the notion of activity awareness, the awareness of project work that supports group performance in complex and long-term tasks. Activity awareness builds upon prior research on social awareness (of the presence of one’s collaborators) and action awareness (of what collaborators are doing or what they have recently done).

Support: ITR/PE(IIS): Activity Awareness in Computer-Supported Collaboration
NSF-IIS 0113264, $449,998 over 2 years
PIs: John M. Carroll, Daniel R. Dunlap, Philip L. Isenhour, D. Scott McCrickard, Dennis C. Neale, Mary Beth Rosson

Knowledge Management as a Strategy for Teacher Development

Knowledge management techniques are widely used in large corporations. The knowledge organizations have is widely dispersed. Some of it is codified in documents and policies, some is embodied in projects and strategies, and some is tacitly held by individuals and small groups. An organization's knowledge is often locally produced, haphazardly disseminated, and ineffectively indexed. It is inaccessible when and where it is needed.

Knowledge management techniques involve employees across the organization in identifying, codifying, and integrating knowledge resources. They help people to make sense of their organizations, to develop and maintain trust, to make commitments and take responsibility, to more effectively challenge, negotiate, and learn, and thereby to improve the quality of the contributions they can make to their organizations.

This research project will adapt knowledge management concepts and techniques, and the information technology they employ, to understand and enhance knowledge management in school organizations. The goal is to help public school teachers better utilize the knowledge resources that exist throughout their school divisions, and in adjacent school divisions, to better facilitate teaching and learning.

Support: ROLE: The School as a Knowing Organization — Knowledge Management as a Strategy for Continuous Teacher Development
NSF-REC-0106552, $710,223 over 3 years (Dec. 2001 - Nov. 2004)
PIs: John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, Daniel Dunlap, Fred Morton, Robert McCracken, Stephen Kerr, Chun Wei Choo

Multiple Views as an HCI Design Pattern

Many people in software engineering have tried to describe design patterns -- standard solutions to standard problems -- as a way to facilitate reuse practices and improve software quality. Recently this idea has been extended to user interface software and design. I think that some of my own UI design work illustrates a pattern I call "coordinated views". I'd like to work with a student to develop and document this design pattern.


Many of the projects listed here are using MOOsburg as a testbed or playground. MOOsburg provides an interesting framework for a wide variety of systems projects. Contact me or Philip Isenhour, or go to MOOsburg.

Minimalist Information

I have a long-term interest in designing information and use interfaces that are efficient in the sense that they present only what is needed and allow human intelligence to actively elaborate. Although computer scientists has a tradition of avoiding documentation and design, these are important and interesting aspects of any software or systems project. The Web presents a huge set of cases where information and interfaces are distractingly bloated, and resultingly inefficient for users. (Minimalism as one of the top 50 learning theories!)

Copyright © 1995-2001 J.M. Carroll, last updated August 2001