June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.1048.1 - 14.1048.13
Self-Organizing Units in an Interdisciplinary Course for Pervasive Computing Design
We conducted a case study of a design course that focused on bringing together students from engineering, industrial design, and marketing to use pervasive computing technologies to design, coordinate, and build a “smart” dorm room for disabled individuals. The class was loosely structured to encourage innovation, critical thinking and interdisciplinarity. In this environment, teams were created, disassembled, and re-created in a self-organizing fashion. With few norms, teams were expected to be interdisciplinary, form quickly, and work together by creatively integrating their disciplinary expertise.
In observing this semester-long class, we found certain conditions that will enhance pedagogical tools designed to expedite team formation and improve collaborative practices in a classroom setting. Similar to open source software development, we found that groups can form randomly in a loosely coordinated environment that is both self-managing and self-directing if instructors create a strong normative foundation to the class. In this case study, we observed that the applied concept of self-organizing buffered with strong faculty input invests group members with a greater commitment to be productive, effective, and innovative.
Keywords: interdisciplinary collaboration, group formation, self-organizing units
Work teams are often led by project managers and situated in a large organizational environment where routine and predictability are valued. In certain settings, such as in open source software development,1 groups can form without traditional project management structure in a loosely coordinated environment that is both self-organizing and self-managing. This concept of self- organizing invests group members with a greater commitment to be productive, effective, and innovative. However, there has still been little discussion about self-organizing teams in an educational setting. By breaking down disciplinary divisions to create a well-functioning unit that is coordinated and interdependent, the authors conducted a case study of how instructors can help students replicate emerging industry practices by encouraging students to self-organize teams in an interdisciplinary context that includes engineering, industrial design, and marketing.
The case study focused on a course that brought students from a variety of disciplines together to use pervasive computing technologies to design, coordinate, and build components for a “smart” dorm room for disabled individuals. These intelligent components are intended to transparently interact with users. Examples of projects that the students worked on included a modular furniture system with a survey-based selection system, a social-networking “hive” to help students more easily integrate into the dorm and campus community, an interactive mirror to provide reminders and help with grooming activities, a personal assistant robot to fetch small items and help navigate campus, and a bracelet to provide emergency information, replace door keys, and act as a digital wallet.
McNair, L., & Newswander, C., & Coupey, E., & Dorsa, E., & Martin, T., & Paretti, M. (2009, June), Self Organizing Units To Promote Interdisciplinary Teaming In A Course For Pervasive Computing Design Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5065
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