Opening up the Collaborative Problem-Solving Process to Solvers
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In software systems, having features of openness means that some of the internal components of the system are made available for examination by users. Researchers have looked at different effects of open systems a great deal in the area of educational technology, but also in areas outside of education. Properly used, openness has the potential to teach users about the system, and about themselves, without drowning the user in a sea of confusing information. This work explores features of openness that I have added to the collaborative problem-solving system known as CoSolve. Collaborative problem-solving software allows several solvers, often remotely and possibly asynchronously, to work together to create a solution to a problem known to all of them. For the purposes of this work, the problem being solved is well defined. In addition to making remote and asynchronous solving more practical, collaborative problem-solving systems can enhance the problem-solving process by providing additional services to solvers, such as record-keeping, suggestion and evaluation tools. The contributions I present here are 1) the addition of features of openness to CoSolve, and an evaluation of those open features, and 2) a collection of tools for analyzing and understanding CoSolve behavior. The first contribution improves CoSolve by making it easier for solvers to collaborate. The second introduces a way to understand the seemingly chaotic and complex behavior of solvers in the CoSolve system.