Interaction and Collaborative Learning – If, Why and How?

Berit Östlund [berit.ostlund@educ.umu.se],
Department of Child and Youth Education, Special Education and Counselling,
Umeå University [http://www.umu.se], SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden

English Abstract

The main purpose of this explorative study was to develop further understanding of factors influencing peer-learner interactions and collaborative learning activities, in an asynchronous computer-mediated learning environment. The study was conducted with a small group of seven students enrolled in a supplementary course for special education teachers. Questionnaires, portfolios and transcriptions of the students’ postings into WebBoard were used for collecting data. The results indicate that the students appreciated computer-mediated communication but they preferred face-to-face communication, did not collaborate with assignments beyond requirements. There was little evidence of factors characterizing effective collaborative learning activities. Several possible reasons were found and discussed, e.g., the design of assignments and assessments, the teacher’s activity, the group-building process, the students’ life situation outside of their studies, the students’  motives to enrol in the course, their preferred learning style and their skills in how to collaborate effectively in an asynchronous computer-mediated environment.

Swedish Abstract

Syftet med studien var att få kunskap om faktorer som påverkar interaktion och kollaborativa läraktiviteter i en asynkron dator­medie­rad lärmiljö. Studien genomfördes bland sju kvinnliga distansstudenter som deltog i en fortbildningskurs för specialpedagoger. Data samlades in via enkäter, portfolio och transkriptioner av stu­denternas textmeddelanden i en datorkonferens i WebBoard. Resultatet visar att studenterna uppskattade den datormedierade kommunikationen men de föredrog ansikte-mot-ansikte kommunikation. De samverkade enbart i den omfattning som krävdes för att få godkänt resultat på kursen och det förekom inte ett effektivt sam­verkanslärande utifrån Sollers (2001) modell. Flera möjliga förklaringar till resultatet hittades och diskuterades bl.a. examinationernas och uppgifternas utformning, lärarens aktivitet, gruppbildningsprocessen, studenternas övriga livssituation, deras motiv till att delta i kursen samt deras individuella lärstil och färdighet i att samverka effektivt i en asynkron datormedierad lärmiljö.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, internet, collaborative learning, learning management system, MOOC, interaction, LMS,

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