Abstract: Wikis, freely editable collections of web pages, exhibit potential for a flexible documentationÃ‚Â and communication tool for collaborative design tasks as well as support for teamÃ‚Â design thinking early in the design process. The purpose of this work is to analyze dimensionsÃ‚Â of wiki technologies from a communication perspective as applicable to design. AÃ‚Â wiki was introduced in a globally distributed product development course, and the experiencesÃ‚Â and performance of colocated and distributed teams in the course were assessedÃ‚Â through observations, surveys, and site usage analytics. With a focus on communicationÃ‚Â in design, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of using wikis in student engineeringÃ‚Â design teams. Our goal is to use wiki technologies to enhance support for designÃ‚Â processes while exploiting the potential for increasing shared understanding amongÃ‚Â teams. Distributed teams used the wiki more as a design tool and were more supportiveÃ‚Â of its use in the course whereas colocated teams used it for documentation. The usageÃ‚Â patterns, the number and type of files uploaded, and the wiki structure provided indicatorsÃ‚Â of better performing teams. The findings also suggest ways to improve and informÃ‚Â students about best practices using the wiki for design and to transform the wiki as a supportÃ‚Â tool for communication during early design collaboration.
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