A debate dashboard to enhance online knowledge sharing

Publication Type:
Journal Article
VINE, 2012, 42 (1), pp. 67 - 93
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Purpose: In this paper the aim is to present Debate Dashboard, an online collaborative platform designed to support distributed knowledge management and decision making. The platform integrates an argument mapping tool with visual widgets with the objective of enhancing collective sense-making and mutual understanding as well as to compensate for the costs of mediated communication in virtual collaborative environments. Design/methodology/approach: The design of Debate Dashboard is based on the theory of common ground according to which participants involved in a conversation build mutual understanding thanks to the exchange of different types of feedback. Using the concept of grounding cost, the authors identified several features of the Dashboard supposed to favour mutual understanding and knowledge sharing. Such features have been implemented through six visual widgets selected through a benchmarking of currently available visualization tools. Findings: The paper discusses the limitations and advantages of online argumentation to support online discussions and presents a review of current visualization tools. The design of a new platform able to integrate online argumentation and visualization technologies is described and it is argued that Debate Dashboard will improve online collaboration in many respects especially in terms of supporting the construction of shared knowledge representations for geographically distributed collaborative teams. Originality/value: First, the work adds to the debate on the development of online argumentation platforms by offering an alternative theoretical perspective based on language and conversational studies. Second, it proposes for the first time to integrate argumentation and visualization technologies in the same tool to create an augmented collaborative platform able to overcome the limitations of both traditional online collaboration technologies, such as forums and wikis, as well as the criticalities associated with the use of argumentation technologies. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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