Many groupware tools focus on supporting collaborative real-time work; yet in practice, work spans many different modes: from collaborative to independent activity, and from synchronous, real-time activity to asynchronous activity. How can we design tools that allow users to transition between these modes of activity smoothly in their work? We consider how the common office and domestic whiteboard are used for both independent and asynchronous activity, showing how users employ the whiteboard to transition between these and other modes of activity. Our findings suggest that the whiteboard does so by being a contextually located display with visually persistent content, facilitating transitions because it is a flexible, common tool enabling the creation of representations that are useful across modes. We explore the design implications of these findings with respect to interactive whiteboard tools, and discuss how they can be applied more generally to inform the design of groupware tools.
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