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The joint organization of interaction within a multimodal CSCL medium

Abstract

In order to collaborate effectively in group discourse on a topic like mathematical patterns, group participants must organize their activities in ways that share the significance of their utterances, inscriptions, and behaviors. Here, we report the results of a ethnomethodological case study of collaborative math problem-solving activities mediated by a synchronous multimodal online environment. We investigate the moment-by-moment details of the interaction practices through which participants organize their chat utterances and whiteboard actions as a coherent whole. This approach to analysis foregrounds the sequentiality of action and the implicit referencing of meaning making—fundamental features of interaction. In particular, we observe that the sequential construction of shared drawings and the deictic references that link chat messages to features of those drawings and to prior chat content are instrumental in the achievement of intersubjectivity among group members’ understandings. We characterize this precondition of collaboration as the co-construction of an indexical field that functions as a common ground for group cognition. Our analysis reveals methods by which the group co-constructs meaningful inscriptions in the dual-interaction spaces of its CSCL environment. The integration of graphical, narrative, and symbolic semiotic modalities in this manner also facilitates joint problem solving. It allows group members to invoke and operate with multiple realizations of their mathematical artifacts, a characteristic of deep learning of mathematics.

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Notes

  1. For instance, after Qwertyuiop declares the completion of the grid in line 11, 137 anchors Qwertyuiop’s drawing to the background at 7:15:47 (see Log 3). Because such a move preserves the positions of the selected objects and the objects affected by the move include only the lines recently added by Qwertyuiop, 137’s anchoring move seems to give a particular significance to Qwertyuiop’s recent drawing. Hence, 137’s anchoring move can be treated as an (implicit) endorsement of Qwertyuiop’s drawing effort in response to his previous request.

  2. While a participant is typing, a social awareness message appears under the chat entry box on everyone else’s screen stating that the person “is typing” (see Fig. 5). When the typist posts the message, the entire message appears suddenly as an atomic action in everyone’s chat window.

  3. In the meantime, Qwertyuiop also performs a few drawing actions near the shared drawing, but his actions do not introduce anything noticeably different because he quickly erases what he draws each time.

  4. 137 makes use of Gauss’s method for summing this kind of series, adding the first and last term and multiplying by half of the number of terms: (1 + n + n – 1)*n/2 = 2n*n/2 = n2. This method was used by the group and shared in previous sessions involving the stair pattern that is still visible in the whiteboard.

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Acknowledgment

The reviews coordinated by Dan Suthers helped us to structure this paper more clearly. Some of the larger methodological, technological, and pedagogical issues the reviewers raised are addressed in (Stahl 2009b), which lists the VMT research team members. This paper is a result of the team’s group cognition. Access to the complete data using the VMT Replayer is available by emailing the authors.

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Correspondence to Murat Perit Çakır.

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Perit Çakır, M., Zemel, A. & Stahl, G. The joint organization of interaction within a multimodal CSCL medium. Computer Supported Learning 4, 115–149 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11412-009-9061-0

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Keywords

  • Group cognition
  • Interaction analysis
  • Dual-interaction space
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Indexicality
  • Mathematics education
  • Text chat
  • Visual reasoning
  • Common ground
  • Joint problem space