You are on page 1of 11

Collaborative Learning Using Technology:Issues and Approaches This paper was presented at the 1996 CAUSE annual conference.

It is part of the proceedings of that conference, "Broadening Our Horizons: Information, Services, Technology -Proceedings of the 1996 CAUSE Annual Conference," pages 8-81+. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republish in any form, requires written permission from the author and CAUSE. For further information, contact CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301; 303-449-4430; e-mail info@cause.org.

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING USING TECHNOLOGY: ISSUES AND APPROACHES By: Thomas Fowler, IV, Assistant Professor Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Environmental Design Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 Email: tfowler@calpoly.edu Dr. Jean Gasen, Associate Professor Information Systems, School of Business Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond VA 23284-4000 Email: jgasen@cabell.vcu.edu Dr. Lowell Roberts, Interim Director Institute for Academic Technology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2525 Meridian Parkway, Suite 400 Durham, NC 27713 Email: Lowell_Roberts@unc.edu Steven Saltzberg, Director Information & Technology Services Randolph-Macon College Ashland VA 23005-5005 Email: ssaltz@rmc.edu

ABSTRACT: This paper will discusses four approaches/models for using technology to support collaborative learning. The first section discusses group dynamics, pedagogic issues and administrative issues with specific examples of projects in a human-computer interface development class. The second section describes an architecture design studio course on the World Wide Web that creates a virtual design community accessible to the world and extends the classroom discussion

beyond the traditional academic walls. The third section discusses the potential of Groupware to create highly efficacious learning environments and describes how Lotus Notes is used to create collaborative, yet individualized, learning environments. The last section describes how synchronous internet technologies enhance classroom learning for chemistry and computer science students. INTRODUCTION Although all of our institutions have examples of teaching and learning through the use of technology, examples of collaborative learning is often much more difficult to find. But examples are present in all four of our institutions, and the technologies that are being used are not limited to the web or even networks. In addition we have discovered that the same technology can be used in support of different pedagogies and learning styles. The technologies include email, downlinked video conferencing, desktop interactive video conferencing, realtime audio conferencing, chat sessions on the web, and groupware such as LOTUS NOTES. The examples to be discussed here are: * At Virginia Commonwealth University, students participate both synchronously and asynchronously at differing times during projects which, for example, designed a human-computer interface for an information system for cancer patients and their families. * At Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, a virtual architectural community has been created which uses the web to extend its walls to non-students internationally during the semester, and uses "face to face" desktop video conferencing for the presentation of student projects. * At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Groupware is used to take advantage of an existing infrastructure, to more fully involve different learning styles and personality types, and to, of course, extend its walls. * At Randolph-Macon College, chemistry students are collaborating on an experiment with students from other institutions over the internet; and computer science students are using chat software in-class to discuss the history computing. All the examples will point to several important issues regarding the use of technology in collaborative learning: * Technologies can be used to develop students with different learning styles. * There are many paradigms for teaching and learning with technology. * The same tools that offer collaboration can also enhance

individual learning. * The lines between synchronous and asynchronous learning begins to fade as faculty and students gain experience with these tools. * Emerging technologies such as wireless computing and intelligent systems will continue to push the edge of how we can use technology for collaborative learning. * The movement towards student-centered learning becomes a natural extension of these tools. The new teaching and learning paradigms will not only change the way that students learn, but will ask faculty to continually assess the way they teach. NEW METAPHORS FOR COLLABORATIVE LEARNING Jean B. Gasen, Associate Professor, Information Systems Virginia Commonwealth University There are few occupations where people do not work together to achieve goals. Yet much of the education that students receive is individual, faculty-directed learning. Within all areas of education the need for team work is being recognized (Gasen & Preece, 1996.) This is particularly so in computing disciplines, where it is assumed that after graduating many students will join development teams. Working together as a collaborative team, however, is challenging for most students. Collaboration is a dynamic, social process that goes well beyond coordination of separate efforts (Adams & Hamm, 1990). It is shared awareness and understanding as new ideas or products are constructed _through_ interactions with others. Issues of group dynamics are critical to the success of any collaborative learning project (Shrage, 1990) . Social solidarity and joint responsibility for reaching group goals must be emphasized. Active participation and student-to-student support are also part of the process. Such activity can result in a major shift in student values and attitudes towards learning (Hamm & Adams, 1992). To accomplish collaborative learning with technology, new metaphors for teaching - e.g. teaching as choreography or teaching as coaching - must emerge as teachers focus more on structuring the learning and social environment to encourage active participation and group self-reliance in completing team work (Adams, & Hamm, 1990.) In addition, different technologies may be needed to support groups at different points in a project's development (Drexler, Sibbert & Forrester, 1988) . For example, at the beginning of a project, same place / same time communication is necessary and technology to support idea generation and consensus building on the overall project are needed. Later on, more individual work needs to be done and technologies to support work flow and document creation, sharing, editing and annotating are needed. A seamless set of technologies to

support groups through the collaborative project is desirable. Three categories of issues concerned with collaborative projects are central to the success of team learning with technology: group dynamics, which is of central importance to the development of group cohesion, cooperation and effective work; pedagogic issues including the changing roles of faculty to support this type of learning; and administrative issues concerned with supporting, regulating and assessing students' collaborative work. (Gasen & Preece, 1996). Technology can play an integral part in supporting each of these areas. For example, e-mail, video-conferencing and real-time audio exchange can help support group development, particularly when groups are working in distributed settings. Technology can also provide an electronic record of team activity or support other group processes such as brainstorming and consensus-building, wiring and editing, document versioning etc. Administratively, technology is crucial in facilitating the coordination and distribution of teaching materials. Planning and controlling schedules for work delivery is also made easier with the support of technology. Examples from collaborative projects carried out at VCU will be used to help illustrate these issues. In these projects students worked in small teams to design and test an interface for an information system for cancer patients and their families (Gasen, DeMao, McDade, Price, and Watson, 1995). A demonstration of the prototypes the students developed along with their reflections on the process will also be described. ********************************************************* REFERENCES Adams, D.M. and Hamm, M.E. _Cooperative Learning: Critical Thinking and Collaboration Across the Curriculum_, Charles Thomas Pubs, Springfield, IL, 1990. Drexler, A.B., Sibbet, D. and Forrester, R.H. The Team Performance Model, in _Team Building_, W.B. Reddy and K. Jamison (eds.), NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science, Alexandria, VA 1988. Gasen, J.B. and Preece, J.J. Collaborative Team Projects: Key Issues for Effective Learning. _Journal of Educational Technology Systems_, 24(4), 1996, pp. 381-194. Gasen, J.B., DeMao, J., McDade, E., Price, J. and Watson, A. Human-Computer Interface Design: Collaborative Team Teaching and Learning, _VCU Teaching_, 7:1, 1995, pp. 19-22. Hamm, M. and Adams, D. _The Collaborative Dimensions of Learning_, Abxex apublishing Corp., Norwood, NJ, 1992.

Schrage, M. _Shared Minds_, Random House: New York, 1990.

DESIGN WEB CHATS: A VIRTUAL COMMUNITY Thomas Fowler, IV, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo PREAMBLE This paper discusses the component parts of _Design Web Chats_, activated on November 1995, for the purposes of establishing a continuing dialogue of a quarterly architecture design studio course taught in Cal Poly's College of Architecture and Environmental Design, San Luis Obispo, CA. This Web Site has provided a foundation for looking at future applications for design professionals that will explore the Web as a design tool for working in virtual environments. INTRODUCTION In preparation for 21st century future design professionals must be prepared to sort through greater amounts of noncodified information critically, and look at separations in physically proximity as opportunities for collaboration. Creating a virtual design community that is accessible to the world enables students to benefit immensely in extending classroom discussion beyond the academic walls of the University. _DESIGN WEB CHATS_ BEGINNINGS Virtual visitors to _Design Web Chats_ when originally activated were able to provide comments in several venues: email comments directly to the student, evaluation comments to the instructor, and by engaging in synchronous and asynchronous chats with the student designers and other virtual visitors. Quarterly student projects ended in final desk-top video conference presentation with participants dialing in to provide feedback to students' projects face-toface. The graphical interface of the Web Site, along with downloadable audio and video clips provided a level of intrigue and entertainment that encouraged substantive input from virtual visitors to the site. Student portraits and biographies are bigger than life and connected to work to reflect a friendly interface to visitors and to get beyond the 'empty image syndrome' (images with no connection to person whom created it) of many Web sites. RULES OF THUMB THAT EVOLVED OUT OF _DESIGN WEB CHATS_

Vision There needs to be a vision of how the Web medium can allow you to do things in the classroom that can not be done otherwise. It should be understood that the relationship of the instructor to students will be transformed since information is no longer an artifact, but a constantly changing stream that contributes to knowledge. In the case of _Design Web Chats_, the initial vision for the Web Site was allow students to receive feedback from around the world, at the same time of being able to establish a forum for discussion. In previous years I have researched the issue on how to improve students use of feedback that they get in the design studio setting to improve their projects. And over the years have developed scenarios with that use puppets to provide the interface that provides the means for students to see feedback in "other ways" and to also provoke viewers to responding to an issue presented. In the case of the Web, the pages take on the character of the puppets and the student work presented provides the issue(s) to react to. Additionally, the Web allows the ability to more efficiently share the process of education or information with greater numbers of persons. This allows for the ability to celebrate the educational process and make more of an event surrounding 'real life issues' that students should be exposed to and discuss in the academic setting. Virtual Interactions The graphical interface of the Web Page provides the link between the student's work and the virtual visitor. There are some 'rules of thumb' to incorporate in building of Web pages that are conducive to interaction. These pages should have the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. Fast (between 30 - 50 kb); Fluid (appropriate interface); Friendly (graphical balance); Fun (adequate entertainment).

Fast (between 30 - 50 kb) -- Bandwidth is always an issue, even if the Web Site is heavy on graphics. Front doors (home pages) should not be allowed to go over 50kb and definitely not cross the danger point of 60 kb. People get bored, or lose interest and move on. Fluid (appropriate interface) -- The interface should provide an adequate frame for seeing the organization of the site, at the same time of setting up a balanced and uncluttered display for content. Their are a wide range of computer screen sizes that virtual visitors could have when visiting your site and therefore, designing the page to fit within the 13" monitor establishes a good common ground. Limiting the width of Web Page to 500-600 pixels is a good thing to do. Friendly (graphical balance) -- So often on the many images

that you find on the Web do not have a person tied to the image, so therefore it is important that student portraits and biographies provide a frame in which to view student work. This allows you to get beyond the 'empty image syndrome'. Fun (adequate entertainment) -- In this MTV generation era, entertainment is a factor in keeping the attention span of students. Over the years the author has noticed a shortening of his attention span due to the plethora of readily accessible information. Audio, video and animation carefully placed (limit the kb of these files), provide relief from the content. FUTURE _Design Web Chats_ has provided a foundation to build future research in the exploration of using the Web more as a design tool for collaborations. The areas of focus for the future fall into the following objectives for development: * Establishing stronger linkages between the design industry and the classroom through real-life interdisciplinary collaborative case studies. * Creating an interdisciplinary team to develop software (Java-based intelligent systems) and hardware (portable wireless computers) for a low-cost distributed prototype to establish the design tools and libraries for anywhere, anytime virtual interactions. * Developing improved interfaces that resolve issues of separations in physical proximity to create multidimensional design environments through distributed systems. * Incorporating developed computer prototypes and cooperative learning models into the curriculum to allow greater access to information over a distributed learning environment and to prepare graduates for 21st Century Practice. The levels of this research will be to collect data on the issues associated with collaborating via a distributed network. The second level of research is the development of a database/library of necessary tools for collaboration and seamless interaction, and the third level is to further develop and refine the intelligent system to help the relationships in virtual interactions. The projects currently underway to integrate above mentioned objectives are: * Sun Micro System's Kansas & Distributed Tutored Video Instruction (DTVI) environments that provide the distributed learning environment for testing proximity issues; * The development Web-based continuing education courses; * and the development of a Collaborative Intelligent

Design System for establishing the system to allow design professionals to collaborate via the Web. ************************************************************ REFERENCES Holtzman, Steven R., Digital Mantras, _The Languages of the Abstract and Virtual Worlds_, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994. Massey, William & Zemsky, Robert, Using Information Technology to Enhance Academic Productivity, _Educom, Interuniveristy Communication Council_, Inc. 1995. Dolence, Michael G, Morris, Donald, M., Transforming Higher Education, A Vision for Learning in the 21st Century, _Society for College and University Planning_, Ann Arbor, MI, 1995. ENHANCING LEARNING VIA GROUPWARE Lowell H. Roberts, Director (interim), Institute for Academic Technology Research Associate Professor of Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ABSTRACT Groupware has the potential to create highly efficacious learning environments that address three areas of critical concern in higher education: quality of the learning experience, access to learning opportunity, and containment of cost. In other words, groupware can yield gains within each dimension of learning productivity: quality, access, cost. QUALITY Groupware can promote collaborative or individualized learning. Thus, students' learning predispositions or the cognitive structure of content can be matched more closely to the learning experience than is generally possible in conventional learning environments, such as the classroom. Because participation in the learning experience is asynchronous, more contemplative or less gregarious students can be active participants in class discussion. Evidence is especially strong that female students benefit from this type of environment. Learning can be more self- paced, even in cohort-paced environments, while providing the capacity for timely instructor intervention and assessment -- in effect allowing teachers to work with the individuals who need their help at the time they need to be helped. This is particularly valuable when dealing with difficult texts and concepts. The database structure of groupware also supports cumulative evaluation, such as portfolios, and since communication is by network, groupware encourages student

research. Effective collaborative learning requires that each student can participate in ways that are personally comfortable and advantageous, and each student must be evaluated on individual contribution to the constructed outcomes. Groupware permits this. ACCESS Not only does groupware make learning experiences accessible in the home and office, it makes such experiences accessible on demand. Students participate when they want to, for as long as they want to, and on their own terms. They can participate even if they are physically unable to get to or navigate the campus. And groupware, unlike other communication platforms, can provide access to the range of learning experiences and resources, including both media and collaborative spaces. Properly constructed groupware learning environments represent mobile, flexible, learnercentered campuses. Accessibility, then, is not measured just in terms of convenience, but appropriateness. I.e., students for whom conventional instructional environments present barriers to learning, like constructivisits, social learning interactors, or those with ADD, often find learning accessible in a groupware environment. Groupware also can make learning resources accessible on demand, allowing students to manipulate resources in contexts that are meaningful to them or to the material, rather than to the reductivist syllabus of a third party. Effective collaborative learning requires that no participant is marginalized, because s/he cannot meet or cannot handle the material in times or ways dictated by the majority of the group. Groupware permits this. COST If we set aside infrastructure construction costs, groupware is a highly cost-effective learning environment. [Setting infrastructure aside is legitimate, because like plant construction, it is a capital, not an operational expenditure.] The most obvious cost saving is in scalability: the price to add an additional learning space is a computer, not a classroom, studio or library. And the cost of most added space is born by the student, not the institution. But for the student, saving also accrues, because s/he does not have to be on campus. More subtle measures of cost containment are found in learning productivity gains. If students learn better, less needs to be invested in remediation and review. If students learn faster, more students can be taught in a fixed time frame. IF students can handle more courses or get into courses when they need them, they graduate at faster rates. Such productivity savings benefit both students and institutions. Effective collaborative learning requires both common space and time, the most expensive assets of institutions and students. Groupware permits less costly application of these assets. A NOTE ABOUT LOTUS NOTES

From a business perspective, groupware permits secure enterprise-wide collaboration, an advantage in itself for any institution implementing distributed learning and instruction. But one groupware product, Lotus Notes, does this through replication, a process wherein server and client are connected only long enough to insure identical content in matching databases. This has three advantages. First, it maximizes users and content for given bandwidth. Second, it can significantly reduce connectivity costs. Third, it makes learning and instruction truly mobile and flexible, because once replicated content, whether it is collaborative dialogue, instructional materials, or student papers, now resides on the client, completely available any time, any place, and under control of the user. Another advantage of Notes, when served by the Lotus Domino engine, is integration with the Worldwide Web. Material developed in Notes can be automatically published on the Web, and Notes databases can be accessed and manipulated by a Web browser. The presentation will include a demonstration of collaborative learning using Lotus Notes.

MODELS FROM A LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE Steven A. Saltzberg, Director, Information & Technology Services Randolph-Macon College The technologies of the Internet and World Wide Web and their impact on higher education have often surrounded how asynchronous education can attract a new population of students. The liberal arts institution is often perceived as indifferent to these technologies since liberal arts colleges excel in education both on-campus and in-class. But the internet provides both synchronous and asynchronous resources that can enhance any learning environment. Two examples at Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) will illustrate this point. A NATIONAL CHEMISTRY CLASS? Assistant Professor Robin Henderson's upper level chemistry students will share an experiment with students from Texas Christian University and Texas Wesleyan College over the internet using _InPerson_ software on Silicon Graphics workstations for two-way visual "face-to-face" communication. The ability to reach out to a larger audience of both students and content experts gives students at Randolph-Macon College a richer, and more diversified, experience. In fact, Professor Henderson's students were able to receive a mini multimedia lecture using _InPerson's_ notepad/split screen capability from a world renown expert in the field of semiconductor chemistry. Another, often missed, reason for using this technology is that it allows students instrumentation results and analysis that would otherwise be unavailable. With the cost of modern instrumentation increasing, most educational institutions have to pick and choose which ones to have on-site. This course in Ashland

Virginia not only has access to remote students and content experts, but also to expensive instrumentation. COMPUTER INTENSIVE COURSES Each student at R-MC is required to take at least on computer intensive course. Many students opt to take the Computer Science course, Computer Concepts, taught by Professor John Rabung. During the class a series of films on the history of computing are viewed out of class, and discussions take place in class using Deadulus. The in-class discussions using technology rather than "hands and voices" are for several reasons: * immersion in the technology * enables a diversity of learning styles * provides another social interaction And while the learning styles and social interaction issues are important, the major emphasis is to immerse the student in the use of technology, and demonstrate another way that technology can be used. However, the technologies are merely text-based and lack the element of fun. As a result, a newer 2D chat environment, The Palace (http://www.thepalace.com), is being considered in order to more fully engage and immerse the students. CONCLUSION R-MC faculty increasingly use the web to create a course presence and encourage student and faculty interaction outside the classroom. And while these web technologies create collaborative asynchronous learning experiences, the two examples presented here show creative ways that technology can enhance in-class learning.