Interdisciplinary SU team led by iSchool’s Cogburn engaged in NSF-supported study of virtual organizations
Interdisciplinary SU team led by iSchool’s Cogburn engaged in NSF-supported study of virtual organizationsSeptember 17, 2008Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
Derrick L. Cogburn, associate professor in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool), has been awarded a two-year, $199,927 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support an interdisciplinary project titled “VOSS: Developing a Comparative Meta-Analytical Model for Evaluating and Facilitating Accessible CI-Enabled Virtual Organizations.”
The NSF had announced a competition inviting proposals to study the applicability of virtual organizations and the integration of technical and social aspects in such organizations. Virtual organizations allow geographically dispersed members to collaborate on the same project. Though technology is the cornerstone on which a virtual organization is built, its social aspects, such as management and collaboration, are equally important. The project proposed by Cogburn was one of 16 projects funded this round.
Cogburn, director of the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO), will head the project with professors from across SU, including Peter Blanck, College of Law; Barry Davidson, L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science; Margaret Hermann, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; and Tiffany Koszalka, School of Education. This project will encompass four phases and will examine 10 sample virtual organizations in order to build a meta-analytical model.
The first phase is level setting. In this phase, the team will relate information from their respective fields to the dynamics of virtual organizations. In the second phase, five existing virtual organizations will be studied. A model will be built using this study to portray typical characteristics of a virtual organization. The third phase involves, testing and refinement of this model using five new virtual organizations. Finally, the model will be tested across the entire sample to find out variability. The last phase is the dissemination of results to a broad interdisciplinary research community.
The sample virtual organizations used in the research range from scholarly collaboratories to corporate virtual teams. The empirical data used will have representative information from social and behavioral sciences, policy advocates, transnational non-governmental organizations and civil society networks. The project will also consider accessibility features of cyberinfrastructure and universal design to study the participation issues faced by people with disabilities in virtual organizations.