How much computer is needed in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning?

You may know that I am currently working on my MA research – which will examine the role of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in our primary classrooms. Specifically mobile technology. My initial thoughts are here.

In planning this research, the role of the ‘computer supported' aspect intrigues me, and as I am currently planning the study I need to come up with an activity for the pupils that is sufficiently 'computer supported.' Many studies discuss the 'distance' aspect of collaborative learning; contributing to a joint wiki, or taking part in group presentations. Less so are the studies which examine these situations within the classroom itself.

Stahl, et al discusses the nature of computer supported:

Computer support for such collaboration is central to a CSCL approach to e-learning. Stimulating and sustaining productive student interaction is difficult to achieve, requiring skillful planning, coordination and implementation of curriculum, pedagogy and technology.

The nature of the pedagogy, the learning intention and the support provided by the computer environment all need careful consideration. Does the computer need to prompt every step of the learning? What is the role of the teacher whilst the activites are taking place? Should I look at an activity which can be carried out on a desktop PC as well? (Some extra comparison?)

I have several ideas – and would welcome the thoughts of those reading this!

  1. Defining roles within the collaboration is often seen as an important part of the process, would a scientific experiment, either virtual or real, then reported using an iPad be a sufficient use of 'computer supported'?
  2. Mathematical learning fits the bill for a collaborative experience, again using an App – such as Pearson's Talk Maths (which requires pairs) – or giving the pupils problem to solve and asking them to present their findings.
  3. A specific task, such as Google Blockly, which will take place completely on the iPad. These may be more restrictive in the behaviours that I observe however…

These activities need to be planned in the same way as any learning activity, and the roles which the learners have will need to be defined, even if the pupils pick their own.


I would welcome readers sharing their examples of activities which could be deemed computer supported collaborative learning!


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