April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Sessions: Abstract

Web-Supported Collaborations: Building, Evaluating, and Sustaining a Museum Partnership Network   go to paper

Scott Sala, University of Colorado at Denver, USA
Jes Koepfler, University of Maryland, USA
Brad McLain, Space Science Institute, USA

It seems difficult to suggest that creating an educational software program with 30+ individuals of varying skill sets, spread across the country from Hawaii to Vermont, is an ideal model for others to follow. Yet, in 2008, the Space Science Institute convened eight museums; two professional organizations; advisers from six institutions; software and design firms; plus separate research and evaluation teams for a four-year grant (three years of project development plus one year of follow-up research), funded by the National Science Foundation (award #0714241), to produce a Science Theater Education Programming System (STEPS). Beyond the software and embedded theater presentations, a primary deliverable for this project is a successful collaboration intended to enhance the professional identities of those involved and produce better and more usable products as a result. This paper covers the strategies used to 1) build an integrated network of museum professionals based on team leadership theory (LaFasto & Larson, 2001), led by the project PI from the Space Science Institute; 2) formatively evaluate the collaboration process using a quarterly Web-based pulse check (Taylor-Powell, et al., 1998), designed by evaluators from the Institute for Learning Innovation; and 3) research participation and professional identity with an emergent coding rubric and content analysis of the Basecamp site (Stemler 2001), conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver. To conclude, the authors discuss the "So what?" and tradeoffs regarding the ways in which formative evaluation and ongoing research can feed back into the project management cycle as a way to sustain an evolving on-line community of museum professionals.

Session: Collaboration Outcomes: Part 2 [organizations]

Keywords: computer-supported collaborative work (cscw), multi-institutional collaborations, project management, process evaluation, content analysis