Title: ThinkLets: a collaboration engineering pattern language

Authors: Gert-Jan De Vreede, Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten, Robert O. Briggs

Addresses: College of Information Science and Technology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1110 South 67th Street, Omaha, NE 68182-0116, USA. ' Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Jaffalaan 5, Delft 2625BX, The Netherlands. ' Center for Distance Education, College of Rural and Community Development, University of Alaska Fairbanks, P.O. Box 756700, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA

Abstract: Under the right circumstances, teams that use professional facilitators and Group Support Systems (GSS) experience significant gains in productivity and quality of work life. However, because of the expense, facilitators are not available to many teams that could benefit from their interventions. The emerging field of Collaboration Engineering aims to formulate an approach for designing high-value recurring collaboration processes that capture the best practices of master facilitators and packaging the processes in a fashion that can be transferred to practitioners to execute for themselves without the ongoing intervention of professional facilitators. Towards that end, Collaboration Engineering researchers have developed thinkLets, an Alexandrian design pattern language. A thinkLet is a named, packaged facilitation technique, captured as a pattern that collaboration engineers can incorporate into process designs. These patterns can be instantiated at design time in such a way that a practitioner can use them to recreate a predictable pattern of collaboration. This paper articulates the details of thinkLet design patterns and explains the utility that facilitators, collaboration engineers, researchers and practitioners are deriving from thinkLets in the field. It examines the parallels and differences among the goals and structures of the thinkLets pattern language, Alexander|s architectural patterns and software design patterns.

Keywords: collaboration engineering; thinkLets; group support systems; GSS; design patterns; pattern language; facilitation; collaborative engineering; design reuse.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2006.009064

International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, 2006 Vol.25 No.2/3, pp.140 - 154

Published online: 21 Feb 2006 *

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