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Although research in collaborative learning has a fairly long history, dating back at least to the early work of Piaget and Vygotsky, it is only recently that workers have begun to apply some of its findings to the design of computer based learning systems. The early generation of the!le systems focused on their potential for supporting individual learning: learning could be self­ paced; teaching could be adapted to individual learners' needs. This was certainly the promise of the later generation of intelligent tutoring systems. However, this promise has yet to be realised. Not only are there still some very difficult research problems to solve in providing adaptive learning systems, but there are also some very real practical constraints on the widespread take up of individualised computer based instruction. Reseachers soon began to realise that the organisational, cultural and social contexts of the classroom have to be taken into account in designing systems to promote effective learning. Much of the work that goes on in classrooms is collaborative, whether by design or not. Teachers also need to be able to adapt the technology to their varying needs. Developments in technology, such as networking, have also contributed to changes in the way in which computers may be envisaged to support learning. In September 1989, a group of researchers met in Maratea, Italy, for a NATO-sponsored workshop on "Computer supported collaborative . learning". A total of 20 researchers from Europe (Belgium.



Peer Learning with Computers


Collaborative Problem Solving with HyperCard: The Influence of Peer Interaction on Planning and Information Handling Strategies

This paper presents a psychological approach to the study of individual cognitive benefits from collaborative problem solving at the computer. The main focus is on the mechanisms underlying peer facilitation effects. Two experimental studies are presented involving 11-year-old pupils and adults respectively. These studies illustrate the influence of interaction on the use made by subjects of self-monitoring and regulation strategies. The results seem to indicate that working in pairs at the computer not only modifies the final outcome but also the nature and the quality of the interaction between the users and the computer. Some implications for the design of computer support to collaborative learning are discussed.
Agnès Blaye, Paul Light

Small Group Collaborative Discovery Learning from Hypertext

A study is reported in which pairs of students were set the task of learning specified material from a hypertext-based discovery learning system (StrathTutor). Conventional pre- to post-test change measures of learning were employed and demonstrated an average learning gain of some 20%, which was highly significant. In addition, the pairs were videotaped as they used the system together and the resulting dialogue was fully transcribed and annotated to reflect the subjects’ interactions, both with each other and with the machine. In this paper, we compare those dialogues in which the subjects were relatively more successful at the learning task, with those dialogues corresponding to less successful learning outcomes in an attempt to illuminate the process aspects of collaborative learning around the computer.
Anthony Anderson, J. Terence Mayes, Michael R. Kibby

Peer Interaction and Writing: The Process of Revision

The aim of this paper is to describe the effects of cooperative work with a computer on revision skills on the part of 10 to 11-year-old children who used the word processor on a regular basis, in pairs and small groups. This study is a part of a larger research project, the aim of which is to study the effects of introducing the computer into Italian compulsory school. Results of the pre and post-tests show that the experimental treatment (interaction plus computer work) can have important effects on revision abilities.
Gisella Paoletti

Computer Support for the Collaborative Learning of Physics Concepts

It is now widely recognised that pupils not only come to science with ‘alternative concepts’ of physical events but also that these concepts vary greatly from pupil to pupil. This has become a major argument in favour of collaborative learning for it has been proposed that, given tasks where pupils have to predict, test and interpret, interaction where alternative concepts differ will have properties that are particularly beneficial. This chapter reports four studies designed to test the proposal, three with primary school children and one with secondary school children. The results suggest that interaction where alternative concepts differ is indeed beneficial, but only when the pupils also differ over the predictions they make. The chapter will argue that this suggestion, which only emerges from the studies in their totality, is of great relevance to computer supported collaborative learning. Thus, even though only the secondary school study used a computer to present its task, the studies contribute interestingly to the theme of the book.
Christine Howe, Andrew Tolmie, Mhairi MacKenzie

The Construction of Shared Knowledge in Collaborative Problem Solving

This paper focuses on the processes involved in collaboration using a microanalysis of one dyad’s work with a computer-based environment (the Envisioning Machine). The interaction between participants is analysed with respect to a ‘Joint Problem Space’, which comprises an emergent, socially-negotiated set of knowledge elements, such as goals, problem state descriptions and problem solving actions. Our analysis shows how this shared conceptual space is constructed through the external mediational framework of shared language, situation and activity. This approach has particular implications for understanding how the benefits of collaboration are realised and serves to clarify the possible roles of the computers in supporting collaborative learning.
Jeremy Roschelle, Stephanie D. Teasley

Computer Support for Distance Learning


Learning Network Design: Coordinating Group Interactions in Formal Learning Environments Over Time and Distance

Computer-mediated communication systems (CMCs) are starting to be exploited by educational organisations as alternative time and distance independent delivery environments. The design and construction of these environments does not seem to be related to an articulated understanding of the group-oriented nature of the medium commonly used — computer conferencing. Learning Network Design is presented as a new formal methodology for the design and construction of these environments based upon an underpinning communication-oriented theory of interaction within formal learning settings.
Dick Davies

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in a Multi-Media Distance Education Environment

This chapter briefly reviews the use of computer conferencing on a distance education course on information technology at the British Open University. The course enrols around 1500 students annually, and involves the participation of about 80 part-time tutors. Tutors and students access the University’s conferencing system from their homes over a dialup network. The chapter highlights some of the design issues involved in integrating computer conferencing into a multi-media distance education system, going from interface design, through social network design, to overall course design. Conventional distance education course design principles will need to be extensively reviewed if the potential of computer conferencing for true collaborative learning is to be realised.
Anthony R. Kaye

Distance Learning and Computer-Mediated Communication: Interactive, Quasi-Interactive or Monologue?

Research shows that the use of computer mediated communication (CMC) may contribute to alleviating important problems in distance education: isolation, lack of interaction and social exchange. By replacing the ‘transmission’ approach to teaching, typical of distance education, CMC should enable the application of teaching models based on participation and knowledge building. However, in an analysis of CMC protocols gathered from a distance learning experiment, we have been able to show only very low levels of genuine interaction among students. The results force us to reconsider the nature of the group interactive process and its presumed importance in learning which involves CMC.
France Henri

The Social and Organisational Context


Educational Practice Within Two Local Computer Networks

This paper considers the promise of local area networks for education. Two issues are discussed. Firstly, the distinctive forms of educational practice that networks afford. This discussion is reinforced with case study observations from a primary school and a university department. Secondly, consideration is given to the theoretical bases for innovations in practice that emerge in networked environments.
Charles Crook

Technology’s Role in Restructuring for Collaborative Learning

The problem of supporting collaborative learning is placed in the framework of the organisational restructuring of schools. The paper contrasts the organisational impact of two technology systems in terms of: 1) the physical location in the school, 2) the curriculum and 3) how time is scheduled. Considered first is a class of computer systems for which the function is individualisation. In contrast, an environment called Earth Lab is described. Examples of its use in one school illustrate the way that collaborative learning is supported in the three categories: location, curriculum and time. In conclusion, the complex relationship between school restructuring and the implementation of technology for schools is addressed.
Denis Newman

Models of Collaboration


The Negotiation of Dialogue Focus: An Investigation of Dialogue Processes in Joint Planning in a Computer Based Task

In this paper it is argued that existing accounts of the mechanisms of cognitive change in joint problem solving are inadequate for several reasons. In particular, explanations based on socio-cognitive conflict do not tell us how the resolution of inter individual conflicts leads to cognitive change. It is argued that a more effective approach is to analyse the dialogue processes involved. A model is presented which explains change in terms of the relation between dialogue focus and task focus moves and an experiment is reported which explores this relationship.
Richard Joiner

Computational Modelling of Constructive Interaction: Relaxing the Mutuality Hypothesis

Power’s computational model of purposeful conversation was based on a strategy of mutuality — i.e., of explicit agreement of each relevant item in turn. It is re-analysed and extended to cover many of the features of ‘constructive interaction’ - how people change their beliefs and understandings as the result of conversational interactions - including divergence between professed beliefs that appear in a transcript of the conversation and the actual private beliefs of the individuals. The model shows how separate rules for private belief-change and for public agreement can show this phenomenon even within a uniform conversational strategy of attempting to secure shared ideas. Conversation in general exhibits still further relaxation of mutuality.
Stephen W. Draper

Designing Human-Computer Collaborative Learning

In this paper we describe the design of a system to support collaboration between a human learner and an artificial learner. The focus is on promoting the learner’s metacognitive skills by making strategic decisions explicit, by inducing reflection through criticism, and by fostering an active mode of learning. We outline the design of a system with which students can learn about electoral biases through designing electoral simulations. The implications for the machine learning component of the system, and for intelligent tutoring system architectures generally, are discussed.
Pierre Dillenbourg, John Self

Design Issues


Issues in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

This paper provides an overview of the concept of computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL). While there is no clear shared conceptualisation of the field at the moment, some interesting issues concerning the nature of collaboration and the role of computers in supporting it are identified. The perspective of the paper is heavily influenced by the socio-cultural school of psychology. Several examples of CSCL are discussed briefly and problems and opportunities for CSCL identified. The need for the further study of learning in settings outside the classroom is stressed.
Liam J. Bannon

Designing Computer Support for Collaborative Learning

This paper addresses the task faced by designers of systems to support collaborative learning and considers various issues raised by research on peer interaction and peer tutoring in order to sketch out the basis for design principles and guidelines. Several factors are discussed which need to be taken into account in designing for collaboration, such as the relationship between tasks and learning outcomes, learners’ abilities and skills, developmental changes in those abilities. Suggestions are made for various ways in which computers may play a role in supporting collaborative learning, using the findings from research on these issues to constrain the design space.
Claire O’Malley


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