The work reported on here concentrates on virtual ad hoc expert teams for the integration of learning and working, as ad hoc teams seem to be one way to cope with complexity in a knowledge-intensive society. In order to let ad hoc teams learn and work together, group members require effective communication and shared understanding among each other. Two empirical studies were conducted to study collaborative learning and shared understanding, one exploratory study and one experiment. In the first study, it was explored how virtual design teams work and learn together. Based on conceptual ideas, collaborative learning and shared understanding were observed and assessed in a design team over a period of four months. It was concluded that shared understanding was suboptimal; mainly due to the effect that hardly any questions were raised and answered. The second study elaborates on the need to encourage question-answer patterns and reflective behavior in such teams. A tool was developed that supported questioning behavior. As it was hypothesized that this tool leads to better questioning behavior, which in turn results in more reflective behavior and in increased shared understanding, an experiment was conducted. In the exploratory study, as well as in the experimental study, the perceived shared understanding increased over time. However, in both studies suboptimal questioning behavior and little reflective activity were noticed. The main results of the two empirical studies are compared and discussed.
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