Thinklets for E-Collaboration
Robert O. Briggs (University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA and University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA), Gert-Jan de Vreede (University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA and Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands) and Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2008
A ThinkLet is a named, scripted collaborative activity that gives rise to a known pattern of collaboration among people working together toward a goal. ThinkLets are design patterns for collaborative work practices (Briggs, Kolfschoten, Vreede, & Dean, in press; Briggs & Vreede, 2001). A thinkLet is the smallest unit of intellectual capital necessary to recreate a known pattern of collaboration. ThinkLets are used by facilitators and collaboration engineers as (1) predictable building blocks for collaboration process design, (2) as transferable knowledge elements to shorten the learning curve of facilitation techniques, and (3) by researchers as parsimonious, consistent templates to compare the effects of various technology-supported collaboration practices. ThinkLets have a rigorous documentation scheme that specifies the information elements needed to adapt the solution it embodies to the problem at hand. This scheme is derived from the design pattern concept of Alexander (1979; Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, Jacobson, Fiksdahl-King, & Angel, 1977). The collection of thinkLets forms a pattern language for creating, documenting, communicating, and learning group process designs. The term thinkLet was coined by David H. Tobey in 2001 when he said “They are like applets…except they are thinkLets.”
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collaboration Engineering: “An approach to designing collaborative work practices for high-value recurring tasks, and deploying those designs for practitioners to execute for themselves without ongoing support from professional facilitators” (Briggs et al., in press).
Capability: “The means necessary to contribute, record, read, and manipulate concepts” (Briggs et al., in press).
Rule: “An instruction to perform an action with a certain capability and under one or more specified constraints” (Briggs et al., in press).
Pattern of Collaboration: “The nature of a group’s collaborative process when observed over a period of time as they move from a starting state to some end state” (Briggs et al., in press).
Group Support Systems (GSS): A class of collaboration software used to move groups through the steps of a process toward their goals.
ThinkLet: “A named, scripted collaborative activity that gives rise to a known pattern of collaboration among people working together toward a goal” (Briggs et al., in press).
Facilitation Technique: A method, used by facilitators to support a group process.