Coagmento beta released

The first public version of Coagmento is finally out! It’s a pretty exciting and scary moment for me. I have been waiting for this for a long time (more than a year since I started working on Coagmento). I have done several iterations of Coagmento, many studies with different versions, and tried and tested it myself. So it’s great to be able to offer it to the world. At the same time, I know there are many things need to be worked out. People tend to compare everything with Google these days and that’s not a fair comparison; certainly not for systems like Coagmento. So naturally, I am anxious about the adoption.

To encourage people to try Coagmento and provide us feedback, we are even giving out prizes that include iPod Nanos and iTunes Gift Cards. More details can be found from CSpace (the space that you get once you login). I will try to keep posting more updates about the feedback and developments of Coagmento as the beta testing goes along. I believe there is much to be learned by all of us here – researchers, software developers, and educators alike. Stay tuned!

Adoption – the biggest challenge

As we continue testing Coagmento in more naturalistic settings, we discover one thing over and over again – it’s really hard to get people adopt to a uniquely new system such as Coagmento. It’s one thing to theoretically show and principally accept the importance of different features and functions, and it’s another thing to actually use them in practice. I always knew there would be this challenge, but now I am beginning to see it as the biggest challenge of all.

More than a year back I had a discussion with Dr. Paul Kantor of Rutgers about the non-realistic nature of lab studies. At that time I was designing a user study for Coagmento that would take place in lab. I mentioned to Paul that I didn’t think this could give us appreciation for the “real” issues and challenges that one may encounter with a system like Coagmento. What Paul advised me made an everlasting impression on me: “try to be scientific, not realistic.” He was right. Given that I wanted to study human behavior in collaboration, it was a wise idea to conduct a lab study where I could control various system parameters and monitor user behavior effectively.

And now that the lab study is done, I am taking my work to the next level (in a way) – opening up to the challenges of the “real world”. The beta testers have so far liked many of the features of Coagmento, but they admit having additional cognitive load and not being used to such interface as biggest issues. This makes it hard for them to easily adopt Coagmento. Therefore, one of my biggest considerations now is making Coagmento as seamlessly integrated in day-to-day life as possible. Many challenges lie ahead, but we have a good start and a strong foundation!