CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

Paper Report

Title: The Group Facilitator: A CSCW Perspective
Authors: Stephen Viller
Citation: Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. Bannon, L., Robinson, M., & Schmidt, K. (Editors). Sept. 1991. pp. 25-27, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Reprinted in: Baecker R. M., Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 1993, pp. 145-152.

This paper talks about the role of a group facilitator in CSCW. A group facilitator must be able to recognize when a problem is developing, and must also have the skill and knowledge of how to enable the group to deal with it.

In a group's lifecycle, the facilitator becomes the group's central person during the initial stages; then becomes less important as a group develops. Finally, as the group nears its end, the role of the central person becomes more important again.

Three membership status of a facilitator that are identified are: separate (when a group is first setup), included but different (generic sense), and full membership (when the facilitator is a member of a group).

Viller also presented the Five Generic Problem Syndromes and the two intervention strategies used by a facilitator. The choice of intervention will depend upon both the nature of the problem, and on the facilitator's personality and experience of group working.

The author classified CSCW systems into four types according to its temporal and geographical distribution: face-to-face meetings, asynchronous logon, synchronous distributed meetings, and 'fully' distributed. The two extreme systems, 'fully' distributed and computer-supported meetings, are presented. Problems and issues faced by a group facilitator are discussed. An interesting question raised by author is, how much power is desirable for a facilitator to have over other group members?

Finally, this paper talks about how computer support can augment the role of the facilitator in terms of his/her individual tasks, and group tasks.

Report prepared by: Yew Kuan Choo, Email: ykchoo@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 1-29-97 Report date: 1/31/97