A Chat About Chat
This is an informal discussion from my personal perspective on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). I envision an epical opportunity for promising new media to enable interpersonal interaction with today’s network technologies. While asynchronous media have often been tried in classroom settings, I have found that synchronous text chat in small workgroups can be particularly engaging in certain circumstances—although perhaps chat can often be integrated with asynchronous hypermedia to support interaction within larger communities over longer periods. More generally, building collaborative knowledge, making shared meaning, clarifying a group’s terminology, inscribing specialized symbols and creating significant artifacts are foundational activities in group processes, which underlie internalized learning and individual understanding no matter what the medium. Therefore, I look at the online discourse of small groups to see how groups as such accomplish these activities. This has consequences for research and design about learning environments that foster knowledge building through group cognition, and consequently contribute to individual learning.