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133 IETI 38,2

ReŽ ning Collaborative Learning Strategies for Reducing

the Technical Requirements of Web-Based Classroom
Chih-Kai Chang, Da-Yeh University, Taiwan

When a web-based classroom teacher manages a web-based distance learning system, there can be a
substantial burden of preparation work. Although an instructor may use various tools to manage the
web-based classroom, an instructor also needs a web site manager to help him/her use tools such as
web page access analysis. In fact, some of the more tedious work can be avoided by using appropriate
collaborative learning strategies. However, the features of a conventional web-based distance learning
system cannot fully support the characteristics of collaborative learning strategies. To resolve this
problem, a web-based classroom teacher can use advanced technology for managing learners’
portfolios, controlling learning  ow and constructing collaborative learning activities. Another feasible
solution is that a teacher can reŽ ne existing collaborative learning strategies for web features to reduce
the requirements of the advanced technology. Furthermore, reŽ ning existing collaborative learning
strategies can make it easier to implement them in a web-based classroom. Although there are
methodologies for constructing web-based collaborative learning systems, none speciŽ cally address
the possibility of refining collaborative learning strategies to work with web features. This paper
surveys some notable collaborative learning strategies as well as proposing guidelines and
recommendations for how a web-based classroom teacher can reŽ ne those strategies for use in a web-
based classroom through our technical experience and perspective.

Doyle (1986) indicates that a classroom is a Traditionally, an instructor manages a classroom by
highly complicated environment with features of means of appropriate control strategies. The types of
multi-dimensionality, simultaneity, immediacy, unpre- strategy that an instructor uses to manage a classroom
dictability, publicness and history. In our opinion, include group, activity, agenda, role, responsibility,
web-based classroom is more complicated than tradi- interdependence, etc. Those strategies are called
tional classroom because web technology is added. classroom management strategies. Many educators
Consequently, appropriate classroom management agree that using collaborative learning strategies
strategies are critical for web-based classrooms. can reduce an instructor’s efforts in classroom
Collaborative learning is one feasible management management. At the same time, collaborative learning
strategy for a web-based classroom. The definition strategies are also required to implement a web-based
of collaborative learning given by Salomon (1991) distance learning environment to promote learning
contains three major components: sharing, inter- motivation and learning performance (Leidner and
dependencies and involvement. Because learners will Fuller, 1997). Hence, guidelines are necessary for an
try to help each other in collaborative learning, collab- instructor’s training needs in using collaborative
orative learning strategies can reduce an instructor’s learning strategies on the web (Sherry and Morse,
work in a web-based classroom. Hence, many 1996). However, a teacher has difŽ culty in constructing
researchers use collaborative learning strategies in web- a learning activity because web features do not support
based or computer-supported classrooms (Brandon and collaborative styles of working. Moreover, a teacher
Hollingsheda, 1999; Collis, 1997; Ewing et al., 1998). must maintain the agenda of an activity because web
Innovations in Education and Teaching International
ISSN 1470-3297 print ISSN 1470-3300 online © 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/13558000010030185
134 IETI 38,2

systems can not automate the agenda of an activity. requirements. That problem is called the learning  ow
Consequently, a web-based classroom teacher must management problem. Besides, the logs of a web server
make great efforts to manage his/her classroom without can not provide enough information for an instructor of
classroom management strategies. the web-based classroom to make evaluations. That is
called the portfolio management problem. To solve
To construct a web environment for collaborative those problems from a purely technical perspective,
learning, an instructor and a web site manager, who our previous research used active database, work ow,
is an expert of web technology, Ž rst need to explore and data cube technology to enhance the capability
the various possible collaborative learning strategies of a web server (Chang and Chen, 1997; Chang et al.,
and extract their common characteristics. Then, an 1998 ). In sum, the web site manger can overcome
instructor may discuss with a web site manger to see difficulties of constructing a web classroom for
comparisons between the characteristics of collab- collaborative learning only with great efforts to
orative learning strategies and features of the web. For integrate various advanced technologies.
instance, an instructor may want to know the answers
to questions such as ‘Are existing web technologies Frequently asked questions about our previous research
sufficient for developing a virtual space for collab- are ‘Is so much effort always needed for a web site
orative learning?’, ‘What are the efforts required manager to satisfy an instructor’s requirements?’ or
for an instructor to manage the web-based classroom ‘Does a web site manager need to construct all features
after constructing it?’, ‘Which kind of collaborative of existing collaborative learning strategies for an
learning strategies are most effective on the web?’, instructor to begin practising collaborative learning
‘Does using collaborative learning strategies in a activities on the web?’ In fact, the web site manager’s
web classroom work as well as in a traditional class- burden can be greatly reduced if the instructor can make
room?’, and so on. The standards, developed by the an agreement about learning strategies with learners.
International Society for Technology in Education, For instance, the instructor can announce the deadline
state that all prospective teachers should have of a collaborative homework problem instead of using
‘knowledge of software evaluation and integration the system to control the submitting homework
guidelines’ and can make ‘use of technology to design behaviour. Hence, the web site manager can temporar-
and develop student learning activities, and to assess ily ignore that requirement and put more effort on other
learning’ (ISTE, 1997). However, both instructor more important requirements. To reduce the web site
and web site manager have no guidelines about the manager’s efforts, three aspects of an instructor’s
relations between the technological efforts and their requirements for using collaborative learning strategies
effectiveness before constructing a web-based collabo- on web should be considered for reŽ nement.
rative learning environment. Thus, there should be
reports to depict the relationships between tech- First, an instructor using a web-based distance learning
nological efforts and collaborative learning strategies system has the difŽ culty of constructing collaborative
from both technical and pedagogical perspectives. learning activities because the web system does
Thereafter, a distance learning instructor can not support role assigning, and learners’ behaviour
coordinate with a web site manager to construct an recording. If an instructor wants to heterogeneously
effective web-based classroom with less effort. group learners in a web-based classroom, the instructor
needs to know ‘How was a learner’s learning perfor-
The features for a collaborative learning strategy mance previously?’; ‘Which kind of role is suitable
include heterogeneous grouping, interdependence, for a learner?’; ‘What is the capability of a role, called
individual accountability, and group processing individual accountability, for a learner in a hetero-
(Warschauer, 1997). An instructor may ask the web geneous group?’, and so on. The present web system
site manager to construct all of these features in the can neither answer those questions by retrieving
web-based classroom. For instance, an instructor may information from the large amount of logs, nor endow
want to use Team Game Tournament (TGT) collab- learners with a role. Hence, a web site manager may be
orative learning strategies (see below). However, a asked to develop programmes for retrieving meaning
web server is inherently passive, without a grouping from the logs of an existing web server. In fact, a
mechanism, so that it is very difficult to construct distance learning instructor can get all the required
collaborative learning activities. This problem is information for management of a virtual classroom if
called the learning activity construction problem. a web site manager is dedicated to those requirements.
Furthermore, a TGT strategy must control learning These issues are referred as the heterogeneous
flow among learning activities for its regrouping grouping requirements for constructing activities.
Web-Based Classroom Management 135

However, a teacher will have difŽ culty in constructing A teacher must maintain the progress of an activity
a collaborative learning activity because the web was because network tools can not automate the agenda of
not developed for collaborative learning. The teacher an activity. Take the example of discussion activity.
must arrange the style of collaborative work and deŽ ne The teacher must deŽ ne the deadline for the discussion
what a group member can do. For instance, a teacher activities of groups and move learners into subsequent
may issue a homework assignment that should be collaborative learning activities. In addition, progress
a collaborative task. This homework assignment is in agenda of an activity may depend on certain tasks
divided into four parts, with each part assigned to a that learners must Ž nish. However, an instructor can
particular group member and each group with a leader not always monitor the progression of a collaborative
who should combine the four parts into a complete learning activity. These are called automating schedule
solution. For each individual part, the assigned member problems of the learning  ow issues.
can present his/her idea and solution, while other
members can provide only suggestions and comments. Third, to analyse a learner’s behaviour, an instructor
However, the group leader can modify the partial must make a great effort to Ž nd pedagogical meanings
solution. Group members can only view the results in the large volume of learners’ records. Recording
and discussion of their group, unless they are respon- and diagnosing learners’ behaviour is tedious work
sible for handing out the results. In other words, an for an instructor in a distance learning environment;
instructor should be able to easily construct web-based especially to analyse the interaction patterns of collab-
learning activities according to any speciŽ c strategy. orative learning. Although learners’ behaviour records
Every learner should be assigned a suitable role in the may have been properly recorded and analysed, an
proper learning activity. To provide a friendly and instructor cannot easily determine the group pro-
familiar interface, various learning activities should cessing from learners’ portfolios to refine grouping
use a uniform interface. Furthermore, an instructor strategies or learning  ow of the collaborative learning
should be able to reuse previous learning activities to strategy. As the old saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a
construct other learning activities. These are referred to thousand words’, just so an instructor needs an efŽ cient
speciŽ cation and regulation problems in the activity means of reviewing group processing for a collab-
construction. orative learning strategy. This issue may be called the
group processing requirements for portfolio manage-
Second, an instructor does not have effective tools ment.
to control the learning flow to allow learners’ inter-
dependence. Some works of previous studies have Consequently, there should be a mechanism for com-
attempted to manage the learning  ow of a learner on pletely recording group processes in a collaborative
the web, for instance the Guided Tour for Courseware learning activity. The mechanism should be able
(Hauck, 1996) and Footsteps for a Quiz Activity (Nicol to represent all the used data, including generated
et al., 1995). Those works devised mechanisms for and navigated. In other words, there should be a model
generating dynamic hyperlinks or views of a web to integrate users’ behaviour records and generated
site to help the web site manger to manage learners’ contents of a learning activity. Furthermore, there
learning  ow for collaborative learning. Thus, the web should be a summary report period generated according
site manager can easily generate web pages for speciŽ c the instructor’s requirements to help an instructor
learning flows instead of rewriting web pages while making decisions. Hence, an instructor can acknowl-
instructors change the collaborative learning strategies, edge the situation of group processes to improve the
which will generally determine the learning flows. collaborative learning system. We call this issue the
However, that kind of solution requires a workflow recording and analysing problem of the portfolio
mechanism and a web site manager who is skilled management issues.
at transferring the learning flow of a collaborative
learning strategy into the workflow. Furthermore, In other words, a web site manager or a distance
certain kinds of learning  ow are difŽ cult to transfer learning instructor must make great effort to construct
into the work ow mechanism. If an instructor knows and manage the additional components of a web server
the relationships between the interdependence and due to the properties of collaborative learning strate-
capability of the workflow mechanism, the web site gies. To reduce management efforts for collaborative
manager can more smoothly transfer the requiring learning on the web, this paper proposes guidelines for
learning flow into the workflow mechanism. These refining collaborative learning strategies to ease the
issues are called interdependence requirements for heterogeneous grouping, interdependence and group
managing learning  ow. processing requirements. Although the proposed
136 IETI 38,2

guidelines are not generally applicable to all collab- points for their own group. The purpose of step two
orative learning strategies, they do extend our previous is to let every learner have the opportunity to get
research. The point here is that the web site manager points for their own group because step two assigns
does not have to remember, or be bothered with learners to groups of learners with similar levels. The
intricate, yet irrelevant, information; he/she can remain last step enables learners to re ect on their behaviour
focused on the validation task at hand. Hence, the web- by returning to their own group and discussing their
based collaborative learning environment will be more performance with collaborative partners.
easily constructed by a web site manager and managed
by a distance learning instructor. Figure 1 depicts a situation where nine students are
divided into three heterogeneous groups for TGT
collaborative learning. A1, A2 and A3 denote the
students in the group A, where the numbers of students’
identifications indicate their degrees mastering of
a learning topic. The organization of group B, C is
It is assumed that an instructor would like to construct similar with group A. Students in the same group
a collaborative learning strategy, for this example TGT can help each other mastering a learning topic. Then,
(Team Game Tournament), on the web. The three steps students at the same level are assigned to a tournament
of one round for the TGT collaborative learning group. Since students of a tournament group are
strategy are: at the same level, every student has a fair chance
to win points for his/her own group (group A, B or
(1) divide learners into heterogeneous groups for C). There are at least three rounds for the tournament
collaboration; in this example because the instructor has to adjust
(2) regroup learners into tournament for the honour the tournament group by performance. For instance,
of their own groups; the best student of group TG2 in round one will be
(3) return to their own group for re ection. promoted to group TG1. In contrast, the last student
of group TG1 in round one will be assigned to group
A learner will get his/her points for his/her group, TG2. The adjusting mechanism will guarantee that
which is determined in step one, in order of his/her every student is assigned to a suitable tournament
performance in a tournament group. In the next round, group in the next round.
learners will be assigned to suitable tournament groups
according to their performance in last round. Hence, A web site manager should Ž rst construct the required
learners will help each other in the first step to get learning activities for TGT, that is discussion activities.

Last Last

First First

Figure 1 Team game tournament collaborative learning strategy

Web-Based Classroom Management 137

For instance, the discussion activity needs hetero- The following sections depict the guidelines for
geneous learners to help each other learning. Initially, reŽ ning collaborative learning strategies to reduce the
the distance learning instructor should divide learners complexity of implementing them on a web. First,
into heterogeneous groups according their previous the role mechanism in a collaborative learning activity
learning performance. Thereafter, the web site manager can be replaced by embedding autonomic systems
should develop mechanism for heterogeneous group- in the collaborative learning strategies. Then, group
ing, such as behaviour recording, online testing, and moderators can help coordinate the learning flow
so on. Furthermore, the web site manager has to endow among groups. Finally, embedding a feedback role or
learners with suitable capabilities in an activity, that is system can help instructors to determine the group
the concept of role. Then, the agenda of the collab- processes in collaborative learning activities.
orative learning activity should be deŽ ned and obeyed.
A web site manager has to develop or use additional
tools to satisfy the requirements for constructing Autonomic systems instead of role mechanism
activities because web features do not innately include In practice, an instructor can reduce both construction
the functionality for constructing activities. and management efforts by embedding autonomic
systems into a collaborative learning strategy. For
In summary, a distance learning instructor may ask the instance, learners can divide themselves into hetero-
web site manager to be responsible for the following geneous groups by ranking each other. An instructor
tasks: can ask every learner to answer a questionnaire about
the other learners, who are also in the same discussion
• constructing the role mechanism, which can specify activity or tournament activity, as the source for
the capabilities and constraints of a user, in a ranking. Instead of providing a mechanism for online
collaborative learning activity; testing, the web site manager just provides the func-
• automating and co-ordinating the agenda for every tionality for learners to rank each other by an indicator
group in the learning activity. This component coming from learning performance, social skills,
will check conditions to determine whether an motivation, etc. Furthermore, heterogeneous grouping
event occurs and responds to the event with stored requires a learner’s background information, such as
procedures; race, Ž rst language, majority, etc. Most of the infor-
• learners’ portfolio analyses. The results can help an mation can not be easily collected by distance learning
instructor improve instruction by managing the logs instructors, but learners will know the background of
and discovering patterns within them. each other and will reveal the knowledge through the
ranking function.
All the above tasks are very complex for implemen-
tation on the web. For instance, the role mechanism The autonomic system should consider the following
should including the following features: functions.

• various roles of a learning activity may share Ranking. This functionality of the autonomic system
common structure and behaviour, e.g. an instructor can be used for heterogeneous grouping because the
and a teaching assistant both can scaffold learners; ranking results will categorize learners. For instance,
• users can acquire and abandon roles dynamically, one of the items in a ranking questionnaire may ask
e.g. a learner being a tutee may be promoted to a learners to rank each other from degree A to E about
tutor and may later be demoted if his/her learning their mastery of a specific topic. Just as aforemen-
status is not sufŽ cient for the tutorial role; tioned, the dimensions of the ranking questionnaire
• roles can be acquired and abandoned independently are chosen to measure learners’ ‘honest weight’ in their
of each other, e.g., a learner can be a tutee inde- mind’s eye of each other. Then, the instructor can use
pendently of being a tutor; the ranking results to group learners. An instructor
• roles restrict access in a particular context, e.g. a needs to ask learners to rank only their partners in
tutor can access a tutee’s answer to a specific a group or a competing group because a learner cannot
question, but another tutee can not. know the learning degrees of others that he/she has
never contacted. The instructor can normalize the
Hence, it may not be best to directly transform the ranking results to suit the required number of members
collaborative learning strategies in a classroom to a in a group if the ranking results are presented in a
web-based learning environment. percentage form.
138 IETI 38,2

Voting. The functionality of the voting mechanism is Moderator coordination supports learning  ow
similar to the ranking functionality, but the purpose of management
voting functionality is to choose the most suitable
learner for a speciŽ c role from a group according to Subsequently, a web site manager should determine
personal characteristics. Instead of assigning roles to the learning  ow among learning activities according
learners, this facility lets learners recommend someone to the learning flow of the TGT strategy. In other
for a role. Hence, the instructor or web site manager words, the web site manager should develop a mech-
need not make efforts to arrange every learner to anism to coordinate learners of an activity with other
his/her suitable role. For instance, the moderator is one learners of the same activity. For instance, the group
of the roles in the discussion activity of the TGT that first finishes the discussion activity has to wait
strategy. Because a moderator should be responsible for other groups. In our previous research, this
for maintaining the agenda in time and coordinating interdependent relationship is called and-join learning
with other moderators, learners should vote for a  ow, which means that the subsequent learning activity
learner with proper characteristics to play this role. is activated only after all the prior learning activities are
Ž nished. And-join is one of the learning  ow types that
Accountability . This functionality means that a the instructor or web site manager should make efforts
learner’s role determines his/her capabilities. In to control. Hence, we previously presented a model for
general, the collaborative learning system has to the instructor to depict the learning  ow in the required
determine that a role does something (Chang and collaborative learning strategy, as well as a method-
Chen, 1997). The instructor can design daily routines ology for the web site manager to manage the learning
for each role to maintain. Consequently, every learner  ow based on work ow technology (Chang and Chen,
should be responsible for some tasks that can only be 1998).
executed by the capabilities of his/her playing role.
The requirements of managing learning flows for
Consequently, both a web site manager’s burden and collaborative learning include regrouping learners,
an instructor’s web-based classroom management learning activity coordination and maintaining strat-
efforts can be reduced by the aforementioned auto- egy constraints. After a collaborative learning activity
nomic functionality. Figure 2 illustrates how learners’ is Ž nished, learners of the previous learning activity
autonomic behaviour supports a collaborative learning may be arranged into different groups, a process
strategy in operation. called regrouping learners. For instance, learners in
the same discussion group of the TGT strategy will
be distributed to different tournament groups. Some
collaborative learning strategies need to construct
the interdependent relationships among learning
activities; hence learning activity coordination is
necessary. For instance, in the TGT strategy the
tournament activity can not start until all previous
discussion activities are finished. Sometimes the
collaborative learning strategy should be modified
before being applied to some situations, which is called
maintaining strategy constraints. For instance, an
instructor cannot directly use the TGT strategy on 13
learners because the number of learners can not be
exactly grouped.

In addition to using a technical perspective, a distance

learning instructor can reduce gaps between the
requirements of managing learning  ow and work ow
technology by adding a co-ordinate subsystem into
his/her collaborative learning strategy. If the moderator
of the group can notify other moderators of other
groups, the web site manager can ignore the and-join
Figure 2 Learners’ autonomic systems support learning  ow and make more efforts to manage other
collaborative learning activities kinds of learning  ow. The moderator of the notiŽ ed
Web-Based Classroom Management 139

group must agree to reply to the notiŽ cation after Ž nish- A distance learning instructor can help to reduce the
ing the current learning activity. Similarly, moderators web site manager’s portfolio management efforts
can handle the or-join learning flow requirements, by reŽ ning the collaborative learning strategies. In our
which means that the subsequent learning activity opinion, there are other ways to support an instructor
is activated by coordinating agenda if one of the recording learners’ behaviour, analysing behaviour
previous learning activities is Ž nished. Consequently, records and making decisions. These additional guide-
learners are interdependent because they should notify lines include daybook, moderators’ comments, and
or wait for the notification to do something in the learners’ questionnaires.
learning  ow. Figure 3 illustrates how the coordinate
subsystem reduces management efforts for the learning A distance learning instructor can first design a
 ow. daybook according to the pedagogical issues that
he/she wants to observe. One specific role of any
Our previous work classified learning flow require- learning activity should take the accountability to write
ments for collaborative learning into six categories. down the events related to the items, which is deŽ ned
Besides the and/or-join operations, and/or-split , by the instructor, in the daybook. Hence, a distance
sequence, and iteration operations are necessary for learning instructor can review the key processes of
controlling learning flow among learning activities collaborative learning by reviewing the daybook that
(Chang and Chen, 1998). Although an instructor or is written by the student with a speciŽ c role. Figure 4
web site manager can define the required learning depicts the  ow of daybook use as the infrastructure of
 ow by those operations, some styles of the required a recording system for the collaborative learning
learning flow can be implemented by asking users strategy. Furthermore, the workload of the web site
playing the speciŽ c role of every group to do some- manager is reduced by developing tools to help the
thing. For instance, the moderator of a discussion instructor design the daybook instead of developing a
activity should acknowledge the agenda and push methodology to retrieve pedagogical meaning from
the group to Ž nish the discussion in time. Hence, the learners’ behaviour records. Although we proposed in
requirements for learning flow management can be previous research a methodology to solve the learners’
largely reduced by the coordination of learners who portfolios management issue by data cube and multi-
play a speciŽ c role in every group. dimensional analysis technology, the web site manager
cannot master those skills over the short term.

Learners’ assessments support evaluating group Moderators’ comments can be used to indicate possible
processing directions for behaviour records analysis because
a moderator will realize the problems in his/her group.
Finally, the web site manager must record learners’ A distance learning instructor can easily get the
behaviour and learning performance during an activity moderators’ comments either by periodic email or a
to permit the heterogeneous grouping and learning web page for feedback. Hence, a distance learning
flow managing requirements in the next stage. instructor can avoid using the cube operations for
Although a web server can provide system log Ž les, multidimensional analysis but yet can get the same
such as learners’ access records, a distance learning required results.
instructor requires a report with pedagogical meaning.
Hence, the web site manager has to develop or use The results of learners’ questionnaires can be used to
tools for monitoring, managing, and mining learners’ verify moderators’ comments. Furthermore, a distance
portfolios. Furthermore, the web site manager should learning instructor needs not reconstruct the collab-
provide a friendly interface for an instructor to under- orative learning processes before making decisions
stand the generated reports. The purpose of the friendly using the verification from learners’ questionnaires
interface, called multidimensional analysis in our results. Consequently, the instructor can free the web
previous work, is to display reports in any style asked site manager from the tedious tasks of computing cube
for by instructors. However, the issues observed by an visualization.
instructor are dynamic and can rarely be predicted.
Hence, we use data cube technology to support the web To summarize, an instructor may expect to simply
site manager in providing report service to instructors. transfer an existing collaborative learning strategy into
Table 1 shows how to support a web site manager when the web format and get similar effects on learners. From
producing a web site that satisŽ es the requirements of the perspective of the instructor, four features should
web-based collaborative learning. be implemented on the web, these are heterogeneous
140 IETI 38,2

Figure 3 Moderators’ coordination for interdependence instead of managing learning  ow

grouping, interdependence, individual accountability first make clear to learners their expected autonomic
and group processing. From the perspective of the web behaviours and let learners realize the importance
site manager, the collaborative learning strategies will of their autonomic behaviours. Then, the web site
involve technical requirements including activity, manager can implement the required mechanism for
learning flow and portfolio management. As in the reŽ ned collaborative learning strategies. The web
the examples mentioned above, an instructor could site manager should also build the basic mechanism
motivate learners’ autonomic behaviour by refining for collaborative learning, such as discussion, assigned
collaborative learning strategies to reduce classroom reading, lectures and so on. Finally, an instructor can
management efforts and technical requirements. Table transfer the collaborative learning strategies onto the
2 illustrates the relationships among learners’ types of web. Thus, the reŽ ned collaborative learning strategies
autonomic behaviour, collaborative learning strategies, will operate well on the web with the support of
and ways to reduce technical requirements. learners’ autonomic behaviours.

There are three components for transferring collab-

SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE orative learning strategies in order to provide the
functionality mentioned in the guidelines. First, fill-
To apply the guidelines for refining collaborative out forms and CGI programs are responsible for
learning strategies, a distance learning instructor should accumulating learners’ feedback information. This

Table 1 Supporting portfolio analysis from a technical perspective

Requirements Reason Data cube technology

Pedagogical records of the group Constructing relations among various Cube repository
discussion issues

Extracting relations between Manipulating cube from various Cube operations for multidimensional
variables perspectives analysis

Observable behaviour patterns and Showing relations graphically Cube visualization

Web-Based Classroom Management 141

Figure 4 Integrating daybook and feedback strategies supports group processing evaluation

component is used to store raw data about learners’ levels and each learner has to rank ten percentages of
opinions for the ranking and voting mechanism. other learners. Implementation of this part can be easily
Second, a sub-communication system for group leaders achieved by integrating the form with a database, such
should be implemented as a learning flow control as Microsoft’s ASP or IDC with IIS 4.0 server. After a
mechanism to adjust the agenda of every group. This learner is assigned to a group, he/she can compete for
part provides functionality similar to email on the roles. However, a voting process will Ž nally determine
web for the group leader to evaluate the status of other every learner’s role. From the technical perspective,
groups. Third, a database is developed for storing the voting mechanism is almost the same as the ranking
information from ranking, voting, daybook entries, mechanism. Finally, a learner’s portfolios will main-
comments and questionnaires from the reŽ ned collab- tain the role he/she plays. Hence, only the learner
orative learning strategies. Hence, a distance learning playing a specific role can access certain web pages
instructor can use the information provided by the related to the accountability of the speciŽ c role. For
database to support the web-based classroom manage- instance, only the moderator of a discussion activity
ment tasks, for instance, heterogeneous grouping or can access the web page to notify other moderators
learning flow management. Furthermore, a distance or receive notifications sent by other moderators.
learning instructor can also review his/her hypotheses Consequently, a distance learning instructor can know
by the multidimensional operators. which learner should be responsible for learning  ow
and portfolios management.
Figure 5 illustrates the system framework for inte-
grating the aforementioned guidelines into a distance A distance learning instructor now has a learner
learning environment. The upper blocks denote organization to support the operations of desired
learners before they join a collaborative learning collaborative learning strategies. The learner orga-
activity in the system architecture. First, learners will nization can support the system operations in two
be asked to enter their user name and password as aspects. For learning flow management, a distance
identiŽ cation. Then, learners can use the identiŽ cation learning instructor only needs to announce the deadline
code to access all the other WWW pages. In general, of a collaborative learning activity on the web page of
learners should be divided into groups in collaborative a role’s accountability. Then, groups will co-ordinate
learning activity. Instead of division of the learners by to achieve the instructor’s goal. For portfolio manage-
the instructor or web site manager, every learner must ment, a distance learning instructor only needs to
Ž ll out a form (a web page) that asks his/her opinions indicate the observing issues through an interface
about other learners’ levels. For instance, if there are 50 developed by the web site manager. The system will
learners, then each learner has to evaluate Ž ve learners’ generate a daybook template and put it on the speciŽ c
142 IETI 38,2

Figure 5 System framework for proposed collaborative learning strategy reŽ nements

role’s accountability web pages. The data, called CONCLUSION

metadata, coming from the learner organization will
be stored in a repository of the database, separate from This paper provides guidelines for a web site manager
the collaborative learning system logs. Metadata is to coordinate with a distance learning instructor for
very useful for retrieving meanings from system logs reŽ ning collaborative learning strategy. Consequently,
and clarifying uncertainty in system logs. For instance, the reŽ ned collaborative learning strategy will reduce
metadata can be used as the hierarchy structure, which the web site manager’s efforts in constructing the
is usually constructed by the web site manager, for collaborative environment on the web, and also reduce
multidimensional analysis. Hence, the reŽ ned collab- the distance learning instructor’s efforts in managing
orative learning system can reduce the efforts of both the virtual classroom on the web. This paper also brie y
the distance learning instructor and the web site introduces the required technology and the method
manager. of constructing a web-based collaborative learning

Table 2 Relationships between technical requirements and reŽ nements of collaborative learning strategies

Technical requirements Characteristics of collaborative Suggested reŽ nements

learning strategy

Assign group Heterogeneous grouping Ranking

Assign role Voting

Endow capability Individual accountability Accountability

Agenda Interdependence Notifying others

Automate agenda NotiŽ ed by others

Repository for behaviour records Group processing Designing daybook and

appending daybook
Multidimensional analysis Moderators’ comments and learners’
Web-Based Classroom Management 143

system from our previous research. However, that Nicol, D, Smeaton, C and Slater, A F (1995) Footsteps:
purely technical solution for constructing web-based trail-blazing the web, Computer Networks and ISDN
collaborative learning environment would be a burden Systems, 27, 6, 879–885.
for the web site manager due to its tedious technical Salomon, G (1991) What does the design of effective cscl
require and how do we study its effects? SIGCUE
tasks. Based on the characteristics of collaborative
Outlook, Special Issue on CSCL, 21, 3, 62–68.
learning strategy, we present guidelines for refining Sherry, L and Morse, R (1996) An assessment of training
collaborative learning strategies from our technical needs in the use of distance education for instructor,
perspective. A collaborative learning example, the Educational Technology Review, Winter, No. 5, 10–17.
Team Game Tournament, is used to illustrate how the Warschauer, M (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative
guidelines reduce the work needed for implementation. learning – theory and practice, Modern Language
Hence, a distance learning instructor can use existing Journal, 81, 4, 470–481.
collaborative learning strategies and shape them to
be suitable for implementation on the web with
relatively little effort. Most important of all, the BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
guidelines indicate the directions for the instructor
and web site manager to achieve a common goal of Dr Chih-Kai Chang is an assistant professor of
constructing a web-based collaborative learning information management at the Da-Yeh University,
environment. Taiwan. His research interests include educational
technology and collaborative learning. His publications
have appeared in Journal of Computer Assisted
Learning, International Journal of Educational
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