Research Papers

Evaluating Wikis as a Communicative Medium for Collaboration Within Colocated and Distributed Engineering Design Teams

[+] Author and Article Information
Carolynn J. Walthall, Srikanth Devanathan, E. Daniel Hirleman

School of Mechanical Engineering,  Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Lorraine G. Kisselburgh

Brian Lamb School of Communication,  Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Karthik Ramani1

School of Mechanical Engineering; School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,  Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 e-mail: ramani@purdue.edu

Maria C. Yang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139



Corresponding author.

J. Mech. Des 133(7), 071001 (Jul 01, 2011) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004115 History: Received December 25, 2009; Revised December 11, 2010; Published July 01, 2011; Online July 01, 2011

Wikis, freely editable collections of web pages, exhibit potential for a flexible documentation and communication tool for collaborative design tasks as well as support for team design thinking early in the design process. The purpose of this work is to analyze dimensions of wiki technologies from a communication perspective as applicable to design. A wiki was introduced in a globally distributed product development course, and the experiences and performance of colocated and distributed teams in the course were assessed through observations, surveys, and site usage analytics. With a focus on communication in design, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of using wikis in student engineering design teams. Our goal is to use wiki technologies to enhance support for design processes while exploiting the potential for increasing shared understanding among teams. Distributed teams used the wiki more as a design tool and were more supportive of its use in the course whereas colocated teams used it for documentation. The usage patterns, the number and type of files uploaded, and the wiki structure provided indicators of better performing teams. The findings also suggest ways to improve and inform students about best practices using the wiki for design and to transform the wiki as a support tool for communication during early design collaboration.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.



Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1

The early design phase involves more general-purpose tools than later phases

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 2

Role of communication in shared understanding among teams using wiki

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 3

Experience using wikis prior to ME553

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 4

Comfort using wikis after ME553

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 5

Usefulness of wiki for communication

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 6

Methods of communication to discuss ideas

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 10

Page-view frequency with respect to assignment deadlines

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 11

Total time on wiki and performance

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 12

Average views per page and performance

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 13

Relationship of files uploaded to performance

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 7

Usefulness of wiki for communication

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 8

Ease in structuring wikis

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 9

Page-view frequency for leading subgroups of the semester




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In