Susan Gasson studies the design, use, and impacts of digital technologies for boundary-spanning collaboration. Her studies employ grounded theory, ethnography, and qualitative/mixed methods to investigate domains including Enterprise System design, distributed virtual organizations, peer- and vicarious learning in online education, and research networks of practice. She explores three “big questions”:
- How can we co-design the processual and technical aspects of information systems to support organizational adaptation, peer-learning, and effective collaboration? Understanding how to manage distributed cognition is critical for boundary-spanning design, which involves wicked problems that span knowledge domain and expertise boundaries.
- How is knowledge created, communicated, and shared in distributed, virtual collaboration environments? Increasingly, non-human objects mediate human relationships, as these progressively displace people in distributed knowledge networks. We may be able to identify forms of metaknowledge that work across domain boundaries by identifying mediating object roles, e.g. categorization schemes, databases, technology, or routinized practices that embed frameworks for analysis or participation.
- How can we ensure that technology design is human-centered? Creating new design methods and approaches is only part of the assemblage of professional design practice. The impact of technology platforms for design collaboration, the ways in which methods are implemented, and the approaches used to stakeholder requirements elicitation are all important constraints on human-centered design outcomes.
Dr. Gasson is interested in advising doctoral students interested in distributed cognition, knowledge processes and technologies, and post-social theory, that attempts to theorize the role of (material, epistemic, technical, symbolic, mediating) objects in networks of practice. Current (and recent) dissertation students work, for example, on distributed knowledge networks in archaeology research, organization and leadership in technology-mediated FOSS projects, and user involvement in distributed FOSS design, processes. These students use an ethnographic approach to better understand the theoretical and cultural construction and the various dimensions of the respective domains.
Co-design of business and IT-systems, distributed cognition & knowledge management in boundary-spanning groups, human-centered design, social informatics, online learning communities, Grounded Theory