Supporting Peer Help and Collaboration in Distributed Workplace Environments

In IJAIED 9 (2): "Special Issue on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning "

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Increasingly, organizations are geographically distributed with activities coordinated and integrated through the use of information technology. Such organizations face constant change and the corresponding need for continual learning and renewal of their workers. In this paper we describe a prototype system called PHelpS (Peer Help System) that facilitates workers in carrying out such “life long learning”. PHelpS supports workers as they perform their tasks, offers assistance in finding peer helpers when required, and mediates communication on taskrelated topics. When a worker runs into difficulty in carrying out a task, PHelpS provides a list of other workers who are ready, willing and able to help him or her. The worker then selects a particular helper with PHelpS supporting the subsequent help interaction. The PHelpS system acts as a facilitator to stimulate learning and collaboration, rather than as a directive agent imposing its perspectives on the workers. In this way PHelpS facilitates the creation of extensive informal peer help networks, where workers help one another with tasks and opens up new research avenues for further exploration of AI-based computer-supported collaborative learning.