Nicole Schadewitz in her essay “Design Patterns For Cross-Cultural Collaboration” (2009) asserts that technology assisted cross-cultural collaborative design requires an understanding of interaction design patterns to support intercultural teamwork in design learning environments. Schadewitz supports this assertion by showing design pattern research and the emergent 11 related design patterns that encourage social interaction and team management among participants by providing “an overview of related solutions for supporting design collaboration across national and geographical borders.” (44).1 Her purpose it to make her readers aware of specific patterns inherent in intercultural interactive learning environments in order to foster collaborative efforts across cultures. Schadewitz establishes a formal and highly analytical tone with her audience of scholars, educators, and professionals interested in design pattern research and cross-cultural collaboration.
The essay analyzes the research project conducted from 2003 until 2005, under the supervision of Nicole Schadewitz, by observing undergraduate design students emerged in international collaborative design projects. Teams of up to three students paired with similar discipline teammates from another country over seven-week periods. Each study period comprised of more than 100 participants and 50 international partners. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, and extensive ethnographic studies, specific design patterns emerged. Schadewitz narrowed the design patterns to 11 major areas of commonality, “all patterns…. are organized in clusters around the collaboration support mechanisms that evolved in consistency with the findings from the first and second year of analysis, these including ‘community coordination’, ‘social awareness’, ‘contextual communication’, ‘shared contents and local implementation’ and ‘instructional authority’” (44).
Contextual communication styles remain a key focus in global collaboration. High-context communication refers to eastern nations, primarily, with a focus on tradition, trust, and personal interaction. On the contrary, low-context communication, seen primarily in western nations, refers to task-centered, short-term relationships, depersonalized rational solutions. Understanding these key differences permits an understanding of what and how teammates communicate in collaborations.
The research Schadewitz conducted indicates that more than one design pattern is needed to support cross-cultural collaboration. The author acknowledges that design pattern research is a rather young and unexplored field, leaving room for further research and evaluation. The 11 design patterns discussed below offer a starting point for effective collaboration in a rapidly advancing globalized world.
To follow is a breakdown of the 11 design patterns for successful cross-cultural collaboration:
(1) Grand Opening: Reflects first-time cross-cultural collaboration efforts using technology. Face-to-face meeting are highly suggested to cultivate trust and create a team atmosphere. (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #2).
(2) Community Watch: Careful coordination of team activities through an open-web portal is suggested. This works well for teams that desire hierarchal roles. (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #3).
(3) International Home: Facilitate established teams desire to collaborate using a specified group wiki or blog. Asynchronous interaction in this environment structures the communication with date stamped, chronological, and retrievable communications. (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #4, 5, and 7).
(4) Structured Chat: When synchronous interaction is necessary, as patter of structured presentation of design ideas include: presenting ideas first, followed by open discussions and perspectives (high-context communication). Storing the chat files permits date stamped, chronological, and retrievable communications. (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #3, 5, and 7).
(5) Summing Up: Team participants summarize their perception of the synchronous discussion (high contextual communication), and post summaries (low-context communication) for absent team members and for reference later. (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #3).
(6) Mood of the Moment: Adequately expressing moods or emotions within a cross-cultural, technology enabled setting proves difficult. Suggested emoticons offer visually mediated interface (high-context communication).
(7) Annotated Design Gallery: Visually drawn/presented communication of an idea, object, or concept that is then annotated with short text descriptions bridge possible communication gaps found when using only text or only image (high and low-context communication). (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #8 and 9).
(8) Who What When: To meet the needs of multiple cultures and individual information retrieval needs, content should be technologically organized (and sortable) by user ID, date, time, and content summary (preferred by high-context cultures).
(9) Local Variations: To improved shared design ideas and implementations encourage shared a shared understanding of the process through Pattern #4, 5, and 7, (high and low-context communications). (Further collaboration advancement opportunities prevail with the addition of Pattern #4, 5, and 7).
(10) Global Resolution: Local tutors can provide web-assisted video tutorials. This approach creates trust in hierarchal culture dominant teammates, which creates accord for collectivist cultures. (Using Pattern #4 this can be successfully achieved).
(11) Grand Finale: A final presentation that is technologically mediated permits teammates to demonstrate their project competence and receive a final critique evaluating the innovation and effectiveness of said project.
Schadewitz, Nicole. “Design Patterns For Cross-Cultural Collaboration.” International Journal Of Design 3.3 (2009): 37-53. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 25 Jan. 2013.
- How can we successful determine all possible (or at least the major) cross-cultural communication differences and how they may influence (positively or negatively) the collaboration process
- Is it possible that thought determining successful design patterns for intercultural collaboration from technology assisted regional distances that we can also create cyber-culture conglomerations (groups that can share concepts or theories)?
- Can we “flatten” the globe through technology by balancing the different interaction design patterns inherent in successful teams (collaborations) and in turn create innovative design products that utilize human-centered needs based on a team-assisted, globalized mindset?
 Schadewitz, Nicole. “Design Patterns For Cross-Cultural Collaboration.” International Journal Of Design 3.3 (2009): 37-53. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 25 Jan. 2013.
 Bennett, Rick, and Vince Dziekan. “Creative Waves – International Online Student Design Project: Working with the most interactive community of designers we have (n)ever met.” (2005): Designs on E-Learning International Conference Proceedings: The University of the Arts, London, England. University of New South Wales: Omnium Research, n.d. Web. 29 Jan 2013. <http://omnium.net.au/assets/downloads/papers/2005_elearning_collaboration.pdf>.
 Lawson, Cynthia. “The New School Collaborates: Organization And Communication In Immersive International Field Programs With Artisan Communities.” Visible Language 44.2 (2010): 239-265. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 25 Jan. 2013.
 Maher, Mary Lou, Zafer Bilda, Leman Figen Gul. “Impact of collaborative virtual environments on design behaviour.” Proceedings of the Conference on Design Computing and Cognition. (2006): 305-321. The University of Sydney, Australia. Web. 29 Jan 2013. <http://www.maryloumaher.net/Pubs/2006pdf/DCC06_MaherBildaGul.pdf>.