Computer Supported Collaborative Learning
= worth knowing
Online Academic Paper
A Review prepared by
Erno Lehtinen and Marjaana Rahikainen
from University of Turku
Kai Hakkarainen, Lasse Lipponen and Hanni Muukkonen
from University of Helsinki
A new research paper highlights the relevance and impact of computer supported collaborative learning while pinpointing issues and obstacles that need to be taken care of before any such collaborative learning can effectively take place.
From the conclusions highlighted in the paper I have extracted the following brief excerpts:
"With the help of groupware technology it has been possible to create interaction processes in which students are consciously constructing new knowledge (solutions, theories, models) on an inter-subjective or social level."
"Reported positive results indicate that improvement in student learning is found particularly in higher order cognitive processes and in the skills we could define as representing so-called information society skills.
These are skills which are generally supposed to be crucial for people when coping with the demands and opportunities of the future work and other activities in the information society."
"The necessary conditions for successful implementation of groupware are that the organisation's members have a need to collaborate; they understand how the technology can support collaboration, and the organisational culture supports collaboration.
If these presuppositions are not fulfilled in the organisation the implementation of a groupware-based system may be difficult or it leads to ostensible activities. In the school context, this means that a groupware application is not enough for changing the teaching-learning processes towards the desired CSCL, but simultaneous attempts to change the whole collaboration culture of the classroom (or the whole school) are also needed.
More generally, it is important to notice that in applying theoretical ideas and experiences from other countries it is important to consider that there might be national or local cultural practices and beliefs that conflict with the intended teaching and learning methods (see Hakkarainen et al., 1996; Lehtinen et al. 1997). The future research on CSCL should more systematically focus on the cultural, organisational, and individual constraints of the school context and the teaching-learning situation."
"Central to the group activity are social, motivational, and emotional factors that are difficult to implement in computer applications. In human face-to-face communication, social, motivational, and emotional meanings are mediated by using different verbal and non-verbal communication acts. If the groupware is designed to replace these activities by mere computer-mediated communication it can even decrease the effectiveness of communication because of the limited repertoire of modalities.
One of the main challenges for the development of groupware and other technologies for collaborative learning is to create tools which can meet the motivational demands and particularly support the sharing of informal and tacit knowledge."
The paper closes with the following consideration:
"The multimedia elements added to network applications make them very attractive. It is not, however, self-evident whether these new tools also have pedagogical value without carefully planned instructional strategies and adequately trained teachers. It is obvious that CSCL applications will be one of the dominating branches of educational technology in near future. However, many problems have to be solved before CSCL is generally used in normal classroom."
A valuable reading for those interested in the future applicability of collaborative technologies in the physical and virtual classrooms of our future.
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