Research Article

Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 193-221

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Online discussion compensates for suboptimal timing of supportive information presentation in a digitally supported learning environment

  • Omid NorooziAffiliated withChair Group of Education and Competence Studies, Wageningen University Email author 
  • , Maria C. BusstraAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Martin MulderAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Harm J. A. BiemansAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Hilde TobiAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Anouk GeelenAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Pieter van’t VeerAffiliated withWageningen University
  • , Mohammad ChizariAffiliated withTarbiat Modares University


This study used a sequential set-up to investigate the consecutive effects of timing of supportive information presentation (information before vs. information during the learning task clusters) in interactive digital learning materials (IDLMs) and type of collaboration (personal discussion vs. online discussion) in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) on student knowledge construction. Students (N = 87) were first randomly assigned to the two information presentation conditions to work individually on a case-based assignment in IDLM. Students who received information during learning task clusters tended to show better results on knowledge construction than those who received information only before each cluster. The students within the two separate information presentation conditions were then randomly assigned to pairs to discuss the outcomes of their assignments under either the personal discussion or online discussion condition in CSCL. When supportive information had been presented before each learning task cluster, online discussion led to better results than personal discussion. When supportive information had been presented during the learning task clusters, however, the online and personal discussion conditions had no differential effect on knowledge construction. Online discussion in CSCL appeared to compensate for suboptimal timing of presentation of supportive information before the learning task clusters in IDLM.


Collaborative learning Computer-supported collaborative learning Digitally supported learning environment Interactive learning environments Timing of supportive information presentation