Design specifications of an online collaborative workspace

30 Apr 2009

This article reports on a pilot project which was developed to meet the needs of specific research groups for a collaborative workspace. Such a system was deemed necessary because of today’s global network of researchers who are divided by both location and time. The need therefore exists for a system which allows researchers to work on a project without the need to be in the same physical location. Such a system is called an online collaborative workspace and allows researchers to work together on projects by providing various means of sharing information and resources. The main research question in this paper centres around the user requirements and design specifications of an online collaborative workspace developed in open source software. As the final outcome of this research project was to develop a framework that meets specific user requirements, it was decided to follow a developmental approach. The research methods that were used therefore consisted of first identifying the user requirements of today’s research community. This was done by combining the findings of both an informal survey and a literature review of existing systems. The study found that the user requirements and main components of an online collaborative workspace consist of a digital library, online discussion forum, adaptive hypermedia engine and a statement database. These components were successfully integrated into a framework using a developmental approach ensuring that the aforementioned user requirements were met.