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1 Definition

BSCW - Basic Support for Cooperative Work is a groupware system developed at GMD's Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT). Sometimes recently it changed the meaning of the acronym to Be Smart - Cooperate Worldwide.

Using the World-Wide Web as its infrastructure, BSCW supports synchronous and asynchronous cooperation in workgroups. Groups may be established ad hoc, with members distributed geographically, coming from different organizations and using different types of computer systems. Based on the concept of Shared Workspaces, BSCW provides core functionality for (1) jointly creating, managing and sharing documents within a group, (2) real time or deferred awareness, (3) preparing and initiating synchronous cooperation, e. g via teleconferencing.

2 Software

Groups can use GMD's public BSCW server ( or set up their own BSCW server as an extension of a suitable Web server on Unix and Windows NT / Windows 2000 platforms.

Here is a feature list retrieved nov 15 2007 from

  • Store, share and manage files (Documents, pictures etc.);
  • Grant password-protected access to friends and colleagues;
  • Create arbitrary numbers of teams;
  • Invite new members simply by email;
  • Manage appointments, contacts, tasks and notes;
  • Use versioning and change reports to monitor distributed processes;
  • Keep aware of your teammates' activities;
  • Create and publish blogs;
  • Use polls to sample your teammates' opinions;
  • Send automatic reminders of events to remember and things to do.

3 In education

BSCW is popular in university education, in particular to support presential (traditional) or blended teaching. It does everything a good Intranet should do (and usually doesn't) without adding the extra complexity of an LMS planned for distance teaching.

4 Links

5 References

Appelt, W. (1996). The BSCW shared workspace system, ERCIM News 25, 17-18. ISSN: 0926-4981

Appelt, W (2002). Erweiterungen und Anpassungen des BSCW Systems für CSCL-Anwendungen. IN Schubert, Informatik bewegt. Informatik 2002. Bd.1 : 30. Sept. - 3. Okt. 2002 in Dortmund. Proceedings ISBN: 3-88579-348-2, 225-226

Becking, D.; Schlageter, G. (2002). A collaborative lab- and learning environment for a virtual database-practical at the virtual university, Computers in Education, 2002. Proceedings. International Conference on 3-6 Dec. 2002 Page(s):799 - 800 vol.1

Bentley, R.; Horstmann, T.; Sikkel, K.; Trevor, J. (1995). Supporting collaborative information sharing with the World-Wide Web: The BSCW shared workspace system. Proceedings of the Fourth International World Wide Web Conference 1995, O'Reilly, ISBN 1-565-92169-0, 63-75

Klöckner, K. (2001). WEB-based Cooperation with BSCW: A Case Study. EEE Computer Society: Proceedings of the 27th Euromicro Conference: 2001: a net odyssey ; September 4-6, 2001, Warsaw, Poland, Los Alamitos: IEEE Computer Society Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-7695-1236-4

Klöckner, (2000). K. BSCW Educational Servers and Services on the WWW: How Shared Workspaces Support Collaboration in Educational Projects. International Council for Open and Distance Education -ICDE-: Distance education / CD-ROM : an open question?, 11-13 September, 2000, Adelaide, Australia, ISBN: 0-8680-3521-1

van der Linde, G. (2005). The perception of business students at PUCMM of the use of collaborative learning using the BSCW as a tool. Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training, 2005. ITHET 2005. 6th International Conference on 7-9 July 2005 Page(s):F2D/10 - F2D/15.