Supporting synchronous collaborative learning: A generic, multi-dimensional model

Article

Abstract

Future CSCL technologies are described by the community as flexible, tailorable, negotiable, and appropriate for various collaborative settings, conditions and contexts. This paper describes the key design issues of a generic synchronous collaborative learning environment, called Omega+. In this approach, model-based genericity is applied to the four dimensions of collaborative learning: the situation, the interaction, the process, and the way of monitoring individual and group performance. These four aspects are explicitly specified in a set of models that serve as parameters for the generic environment. This opens the possibility of combining many structuring/scaffolding techniques that have been proposed in isolation in the CSCL literature. The paper also emphasizes the specificities and difficulties of evaluating a comprehensive generic support approach. Experimental evaluations conducted by system designers generally isolate the effects of a particular design feature on learning. This kind of evaluation can hardly demonstrate the usefulness of a generic model at the global level and the feasibility of system customization by non-specialist teachers. To address these difficulties, Omega+ is integrated into a larger collaborative web platform dedicated to CSCL practice, evaluation (by collecting anonymized logs), and dissemination (by supporting the technical and pedagogical development of teachers).

Keywords

CSCL Synchronous learning Model-based genericity Interaction model Process model Artifact model Effect model Evaluation Dissemination 

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© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LORIA—Université Nancy 2Vandœuvre-lès-NancyFrance

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