A systematic technology evaluation and selection method for computer-supported collaborative design

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Design is a global activity. It requires collaboration between individuals across borders and beyond barriers. Modern global design is achieved using computer technologies that support many activities of a design process. However, merely supporting design does not guarantee that it is a successful endeavour. The requirements of computer-supported collaborative design are abstract. They are influenced by human-to-human interaction and/or human to computer interaction. As our society moves towards faster communication technologies and a higher number of collaborative technologies available, the need to evaluate the available tools and select the best tool at the appropriate time of the design process is becoming more compelling. If the best tools are not identified, there are missed opportunities for productivity, impacting team communication, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. Student designers at University have experienced an observable change in technology use within their personal and academic lives. The proliferation of Web 2.0 technologies and the spread of social media, social network sites and mobile technologies have impacted how students socialise and engage in group project work. However, it is unclear if these technologies support or hinder the design process. This behaviour change has led to a motivation to understand the use of technologies to support Computer-Supported Collaborative Design teamwork. This research intended to support Computer-Supported Collaborative Design teamwork by defining the requirements of Computer-Supported Collaborative Design, the technologies which can be used to support Computer-Supported Collaborative Design, the technology functionalities which these technologies feature, and to use this knowledge to systematically evaluate and select the appropriate technology to use for any given collaborative situation. The outcomes of this research documented within this thesis became the development of a systematic and automated method to allow engineering design teams to evaluate technologies based on the existing knowledge of the requirements of Computer Supported Collaborative Design and select which technologies would best support their group design activities. This technology evaluation and selection method was achieved by the creation of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Design matrix, a tool which enables the evaluation of technologies against Computer-Supported Collaborative Design requirements; the creation of an auto-population method for the tool supporting consistency and efficiency of using the method; and the development of an education programme to ensure the correct use of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Design matrix. The Computer-Supported Collaborative Design matrix can be used to support the assessment and selection of technology for use in Computer-Supported Collaborative Design projects by engineering design teams in an educational environment. The tool has been evaluated through demonstration of use for a class and implementation within a class environment. Beyond the Computer-Supported Collaborative Design matrix as a tool, a robust and systematic method of creating the tool has been documented, which is the first step towards broader use of the tool.
Date of Award15 Sep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) & University of Strathclyde
SupervisorIan Whitfield (Supervisor) & Hilary Grierson (Supervisor)

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