Students collaborating in EVL Cyber-Commons. - L. Long, EVL

Developers: Andrew Johnson, Jason Leigh

A Cyber-Commons is a technology-enhanced meeting room on a university campus that supports local and distance collaboration and promotes group-oriented problem solving. It is a next-generation computer science resource that relies upon advanced networking and multiple high-definition (HD) displays to transform the traditional computer lab / classroom filled with terminals - to a work environment that facilitates and encourages group collaboration.

Envisioned by EVL director Jason Leigh and Computer Science faculty member Andy Johnson, the space is designed to connect students with advanced technologies and tools in virtual space with one another. The Cyber-Commons is a direct outgrowth of EVL’s collaborative research focused on the development of technologies and tools for scientists linked via high-speed networks.

The Cyber-Commons is an experimental space that will likely evolve as student needs change and technology advances. The current Cyber-Commons installation in the Computer Science department at UIC is equipped and networked to run HD videoconferencing and cabled to allow students to plug personal laptops into the HD displays. Students can now see and talk to remote collaborators in near life-size using an HD video conferencing system, and simultaneously share information to work on joint projects.

The components of the Cyber-Commons can be altered and enhanced as needed; increasing network bandwidth and the number of HD displays could enable more participants and more interaction with high-resolution scientific images stored in distributed databases.

The goal of the Cyber-Commons is to teach students how to collaborate - to solve problems together - both within a university and between universities. Rapid proliferation of Cyber-Commons to computer science departments at other institutions is anticipated over the next five years.


Date: January 1, 2008 - Ongoing

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