Creating a Virtual Space for Child-Rearing with IT Beginners

N.H. Arai and C. Hiratsuka (Japan)


Knowledge Sharing, Information Portal, CSCW, CSCL, Life-Long Learning


With the recent development of Content Management Systems (CMS), it has become dramatically handy for IT beginners to create computer supported collaborative working (CSCW) environments. “Mama Papa Village” is a project to create a collaborative Internet community that supports child-rearing. The non-profit organization running “Mama Papa Village” has a long history of child-rearing in the local community of Miyazaki, Japan. They tried to expand the community to the working parents who were not able to use the “9 to 5” child rearing services, by introducing the Internet to their services. We introduced the CMS, NetCommons, as the platform for the “Mama Papa Village”, and participated in the design process. Although few staff members had knowledge of web-designing, NetCommons was favourably accepted by them. Consequently, they started with five collaborative spaces on the NetCommons, and it evolved into twelve collaborative spaces according to the themes, in about two months. During that period, 216 people registered and it recorded 108,222 visits. We analyzed the relationship between the page layout, the variations in digital content, and the activities of each collaborative space. The collaborative spaces become quite active when they satisfy the following three conditions; the information must be efficiently distributed on a standard 1024 x 768 pixel screen, the title of the page must adequately stand for the content of the page, and the number of BBSs for each collaboration space should not exceed two. We unexpectedly could not find any correlation between the richness or variation of the provided digital contents and the activities.

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