Well, it’s been a long time coming but I can now say that my masters thesis on the virtual margin is fully and completely done. I now have a couple of months off before I start the doctoral program in September. For those who are interested, here’s the abstract.
Applications like Knowledge Forum enable a group of people to work together in a collective effort to improve their ideas and develop their understanding. One of the primary features of these applications is a communication mechanism that enables the group members to discuss multiple topics via a system of publishing messages. This study considers the usability and usefulness of a virtual margin added as an interface element on the right side of Knowledge Forum windows. The virtual margin provides each group member with their own private writing space adjacent to the space containing the public notes. For the study, a group of graduate students used Knowledge Forum, with its interface modified to include the virtual margin, in a knowledge building exercise. Their interactions with the virtual margin and the comments they wrote in it are discussed. Additionally, several potential new features are described and a longer term study outlined.
Keywords: annotation; knowledge building; Knowledge Forum; marginalia; usability
Subjects: educational technology; group work in education; knowledge building;
annotations; application software – development
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