A dialogic understanding of the relationship between CSCL and teaching thinking skills

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Abstract

How to teach flexible thinking and learning skills, particularly creativity and the skill of “learning to learn,” is a key concern for CSCL in the context of the emerging Networked Society. The currently dominant paradigms for supporting pedagogical design within CSCL, including socio-cultural theory, are limited in the support that they can offer to the project of teaching general thinking skills. This paper uses critical literature review, conceptual analysis, and evidence from case studies to argue for the value of a dialogic interpretative framework that links the goal of teaching thinking with the method of CSCL. The evidence reviewed suggests that dialogue is itself the primary thinking skill from which all others are derived. It is argued from this that dialogic theory offers a possible solution to the problem of how to conceptualize general thinking skills for CSCL: this is that teaching dialogue as an end in itself promotes the learning of general thinking skills. Implications of the proposed framework for pedagogical design are brought out through case studies illustrating the use of CSCL to broaden and deepen dialogic spaces of reflection.