EILAB Experience 5: ScriptNarrated by April Stauffer | Written by Todd J.B. Blayone
In our introductory video, we introduced the EILab as both a physical research facility and a virtual space inhabited by the digitally connected minds of both local and remote researchers from around the globe. In this video, we explore this virtual space and the affordances of the EILab for research communication and collaboration.
EILab Affordances for Research Communication
Every research endeavour begins with conversations among researchers driven by shared interests. Because participating researchers are seldom on site at the same time, Internet conferencing and collaboration environments play a crucial role in project formation and development.
The EILab is equipped with a full range of online communication and collaboration affordances including: 1) three large, wall-mounted displays, 2) HD web and conference cameras, 3) several, studio-quality microphones, and 4) a variety of mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.
Each of the wall-mounted displays—digital windows to the world—is connected to a Mac Mini computer, providing large-screen configurations of Skype and Google Hangouts. When groups of EILab researchers require more sophisticated online-collaboration functionality, they often turn to the EILab and Adobe Connect software.
Adobe Connect enables sophisticated, real-time collaboration tools within a web-browser. Features include:
• Unlimited and customizable meeting rooms
• Breakout sessions within a meeting
• Audio and video conferencing
• Main session recording
• Screen sharing
• Notes, chat, and whiteboards
• Sharing rich content, including streaming audio, video, and software simulations
Additionally, Adobe Connect for mobile enables users to attend or even host Adobe Connect meetings via most mobile device running Android, iOS or Blackberry OS. The mobile app automatically optimizes the use-interface based on the size of the device, and provides many of the hosting capabilities found in the desktop/laptop version. In short, as long as enough bandwidth is available to the mobile device, participants may engage in sessions while in transit, or when it is otherwise impossible or inconvenient to log in via a computer.
The EILab and Research Collaboration
Within the social sciences, interaction between researchers is a highly valued ideal. Indeed, empirical studies have shown that advances at every stage of the research process depend crucially on such communication. This is true despite the number of names that finally appear on the published article or report. That is to say, multiple authorship is only a partial measure of the human-to-human interactions in which scientists routinely and necessarily engage. More noteworthy from our perspective is that, in today’s world, a great many of these interactions are being conducted at a distance, between researchers of different institutions, standings and cultures, mediated through digital hardware and software of some kind.