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Web-Based Collaborative Learning Methods and Strategies in Higher Education

Zhao Jianhua & Kanji AKAHORI United Nations University, Institute of Advanced Studies, Tokyo, Japan Tokyo Institute of Technology, Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology, Dept. of Human System Science, Tokyo, Japan, Abstract
Web-based collaborative learning will become a popular learning approach in higher education field along with the development of web-based environment. Web-based collaborative learning can be effectively used to facilitate students learning performance and to enhance their competence of creativity. Life-long learning, distance learning and informal learning are the main three areas to utilize web-based collaborative learning approach. Even in the classroom-based environment, web-based collaborative learning also can be integrated together with the traditional classroom-based learning process. In this paper, we introduce the method and strategies of web-based collaborative learning in higher education. Keywords: Web-Based Learning Environment, Collaborative Learning, and Higher Education. will translate to the web-based environment. Along with the popularization of Internet, webbased learning environment become better and better, especially in higher education. There are many aspects of benefits of collaborative learning, e.g., builds self-esteem in students, enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience, promotes a positive attitude toward the subject matter, provides weaker students with extensive one-on-one tutoring, provides stronger students with the deeper understanding that comes only from teaching material, and promotes learning goals rather than performance goals, etc. The main differentiation between web-based and classroom-based collaborative learning is interaction style. In classroom-based learning environment, face-to-face interaction is the mainly style between teacher-student and studentstudent. In web-based learning environment, they are all interactive by on-line and they cannot really see each other. So the issue about how to promote web-based collaborative learning performance is addressed in this paper. According to Bulls (1994) stated that an emerging research topic in information technology for higher education management is computer supported cooperative working. These research projects are looking at how information technology can support groups involved in a variety of activities from engineering design to collaborative research in the use of emerging tools which enable these tasks to be collaboratively undertaken by people separated by distance and time. The highlight of our study is to find how to use the methods and strategies to facilitate learners learning performance in higher education. The outcomes of our study can guide to utilize web-based collaborative learning approach into formal or informal learning field.

1. Introduction
There are three learning patterns between students in classroom-based environment, which they are cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts. According to Johnsons (1998) research, cooperation possesses three categories of outcomes compared with competitive and individualistic efforts, which they are greater efforts to achieve, more positive relationships among students, and greater psychological health. Originally, collaborative learning approach is mainly adopted in the classroom-based environment. Like Brandon (1999) stated that collaborative learning approach has dealt primarily with standard, classroom-based environment, not web-based environment, which raised the question of web-based environment of how well the benefits of collaborative learning

2. Collaboration and Collaborative Learning

If one wants to comprehend the collaborative learning approach, one must to know what is the collaboration first. The definition of collaboration is as coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem (Roschelle & Teasley, 1995, P. 70). The dictionary definitions of collaboration, derived from its Latin root, focus on the process of working together. Collaboration is a philosophy of interaction and personal lifestyle where individuals are responsible for their actions, including learning and respect the abilities and contribution of their peers. Collaborative learning is viewed as working with others towards a common goal (Marion A. Barfurth, 1995), which it is a process that encourages constructive discussion of ideas, collaborative argument, and interaction among participants especially when those participants begin the discussion with little in common (Walker, G. L., et al., 1997). In all situations where people come together in groups, it suggests a way of dealing with people that respects and highlights individual group members abilities and contributions. Collaborative learning is the instructional use of small groups. Its goal is to allow students to work together to maximize their own and others learning. On the other hand,

collaborative learning is not simply putting students in groups to learn; rather, it is structured cooperation among students (Johnson et al, 1991).

2.2 Essential Components of Collaborative Learning

The approach of collaborative learning is to organize different students into various smallgroups. And then the tutor will direct the smallgroup learning. Groups are networks of human relations, and a group is effective only if members are effective in cooperating with each other. Whenever two or more individuals join together to achieve a goal, a group structure develops (David W. Johnson & Frank P. Johnson, 1994). There are five essential components that must be present for small-group learning to be truly collaborative. They are (a) clear, positive interdependence among students, (b) regular group self-evaluation, (c) interpersonal behaviors that promote each members learning and success, (d) individual accountability and personal responsibility, and (e) frequent use of appropriate interpersonal and small group social skills. The essential components of collaborative learning are the foundation to acquire the compositive factors in our research.

2.3 Classroom-Based Learning Diagram


Group A

Group B

Teacher Group N Classroom-based Environment Possible Communication Inevitable Communication Figure 1. Classroom-Based Collaborative Learning

Classroom-based collaborative learning diagram can be drown as figure 1. The main components of classroom-based collaborative learning include five elements, which are peer, learning group, tutor, communication, and traditional classroom learning environment. In this framework, the students are organized into different groups according to some strategies, e.g., group size, personal competence, prior personal learning performance etc when they are facing to some topics which need to utilize collaborative learning approach to resolve them in classroom-based environment. Students can communicate each other by face-to-face interaction about how to produce the optimal resolutions for learning topics. Teacher will participate the group negotiation if he/she thinks that it is necessary or

the students need. Mutual discussion will be occurred among groups sometimes. The communication among students in one group is inevitable and among group is possible.

2.4 Web-Based Collaborative learning Diagram

Web-based collaborative learning diagram can be drawn as figure 2. There are also five components in web-based collaborative learning environment like classroom-based environment, which they are peer, learning group, tutor, communication, and web-based learning environment. But there are some clearly differentiations between these two learning environments.

Web-Based Environment Computer Computer


Web Server


Computer Group B Tutor

Computer Group A Direct Connection Indirect Connection Figure2. Web-Based Collaborative Learning

Peers cannot communicate each other by face-toface approach in web-based collaborative learning environment, which they are distributed in geographic zone. In theoretic, peers are more individual because only one peer faces computer station in one position. Although peers can be organized into various groups by web-based collaborative learning system through web server, peer cannot see each other unless they use video system (for example, video conference system). They are separated in geographic position. So the communication tools become very important, e.g., real-time chat room, electric bulletin board, BBS, email, video and audio system, virtual seminar, virtual forum, notebook, bookmark, and search engine etc (David McCONNELL, 2000), which

can be used to send, receive, browse, publish, talk, and search learning message. Learning group is designated by collaborative learning system according peers personal competence, prior learning performance, cognitive style, group size, and other discipline strategies. Tutor can participate this process, which when he consider that he should adjust some special peers into or out specified learning group. The function of tutor is not only to adjust peers staying in different groups, but also to give his direction or help to peers or groups. In some web-based collaborative learning system, tutor maybe not real because some tutors function can be simulated by system, which is called virtual tutor.

Collaborative learning theory has dealt primarily with standard, classroom-based groups, not electronic groups, which raise the question of how well the benefits of collaborative learning will translate to the electronic environment. Several researchers have argued that the fusion of collaborative learning and computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies is mutually beneficial, since collaborative learning helps structure the on-line environment, and CMC technology removes many of the barriers to collaborative learning (David P Brandon, 1999). Group size in learning group is another important question, which traditionally there are three or four students in one group. Pedagogical Assistant (PA) was developed by Pascal Leroux and Martial Vivet (1995), which the group size in this system is three. Slavin (1988), Sharan (1994) recommended that the instructional use of groups of three or four students in online groups. Communication in web-based collaborative learning environment occurs among peers, groups, and tutor, which it is easy to realize by communication tools. All of their computers are directly connected to collaborative learning web server, which it can transfer the communication message. The framework of web-server, computer, and network operating system composes the webbased collaborative learning environment.

learning into their classroom. Some of the most extensively researched and widely used cooperative learning methods are introduced in this paper first (Slavin, R. E., 1995).

3.1 Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD)

In STAD, students are assigned to four-member learning teams that are mixed in performance level, gender, and ethnicity. The teacher presents a lesson, and then students work within their teams to make sure all team members have mastered the lesson. Then, all students take individual quizzes on the material, at which time they may not help one another. Students quiz scores are compared to their own past averages, and points are awarded to each team based on the degree to which students meet or exceed their own earlier performances. These points are then added to form team scores, and teams that meet certain criteria may earn certificates or other rewards. The whole cycle of activities, including teacher presentation, team practice, and quiz, usually takes 3-5 class periods. STAD has been used in every imaginable subject, from mathematics to language arts to social studies and science, and has been used from grade two through college. It is most appropriate for teaching well-defined objectives, such as mathematical computations and applications, language usage and mechanics, geography and map skills, and science concepts. The main idea behind Student Teams Achievement Divisions is to motivate students to encourage and help each other master skills presented by the teacher. If students want their team to earn team rewards, they must help their teammates to learn the material. They must encourage their teammates to do their best, expressing norms that learning is important, valuable, and fun. Students work together after the teachers lesson. They may work in pairs and compare answers, discuss any discrepancies, and help each other with any misunderstandings. They may discuss approaches to solving problems, or they may quiz each other on the content they are studying. They work with their teammates, assessing their strengths and weaknesses to help them succeed on the quizzes. STAD is a general method of organizing the classroom rather than a comprehensive method of teaching any particular subject; teachers use their own lessons and other materials.

3. Web-Based Collaborative Learning Methods

Collaborative groups and cooperative learning refer to a variety of structured classroom management techniques and grading systems developed and studied by Aronson, Johnson & Johnson, Kagan, Slavin, and others since the early 1970s. These terms usually do not refer to loosely structured group work in which students are told simply to work together on a problem of assignment. To emphasize the difference between unstructured group work and collaborative group work, groups are usually referred to as teams. Collaborative structures are content-free, and thus can be used in a variety of contexts. Studies have shown that in well structured cooperative groups, students consistently learn many different subjects better than students in traditionally structured classroom. Cooperative grouping lets students organize their thoughts in a less threatening context than whole-class discussions, and prepares students for sharing their thoughts with the class. There are literally hundreds of cooperative structure and dozens of books available to help teachers incorporate cooperative

3.2 Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT)

Teams-Games-Tournaments, originally developed by David DeVries and Keith Edwards, was the first of the Johns Hopkins cooperative learning methods. It uses the same teacher presentations and team work as in STAD, but replaces the quizzes with weekly tournaments, in which students play academic games with members of other teams to contribute points to their team scores. Student play the games at three-person tournament tables with others with similar past records in mathematics. A bumping procedure keeps the games fair. The top scorer at each tournament table brings sixty points to his or her team, regardless of which table it is; this means that low achievers have equal opportunities for success.

number of final tests passed, with extra points for perfect papers and completed homework. TAI has many of the motivational dynamics of STAD and TGT. Students encourage and help one another to work hard because they want their teams to succeed. The individualization that is part of TAI makes it quite different from STAD and TGT. In mathematics, most concepts build on earlier ones. If the earlier concepts were not mastered, the later ones will be difficult or impossible to learn; a student who cannot subtract or multiply will be unable to understand what a decimal is, and so on. In TAI, students work at their own levels, so if they lack prerequisite skills they can build a strong foundation before going on.

3.5 Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC)

CIRC is a comprehensive program for teaching reading and writing in the upper elementary and middle grades (Madden, Slavin, & Stevens, 1986). In CIRC, teachers use novels or basal readers. They may or may not use reading groups, as in traditional reading classes. Students are assigned to teams composed of pairs of students from two or more different reading levels. Students work in pairs within their teams on a series of cognitively engaging activities, including reading to one another, making predictions about how narrative stories will be resolved, summarizing stories to one another, writing responses to stories, and practicing spelling, decoding, and vocabulary. Student s also work on their teams to master main idea and other comprehension skills. During language arte periods, students engage in writers workshop, writing draft, revising and editing one anothers work, and preparing for publication of team or class books. In most CIRC activities, students follow a sequence of teacher instruction, team practice, team pre-assessments, and quiz. Students do not take the quiz until their teammates have determined that they are ready. Team rewards and certificates are given to teams based on the average performance of all team members on all reading and writing activities. Because student s work on materials appropriate to their reading levels, they have equal opportunities for success. Students contributions to their teams are based on their quiz scores and independently written compositions, which ensures individual accountability.

3.3 Jigsaw II
Jigsaw II is an adaptation of Elliot Aronsons (1978) Jigsaw technique. In it, students work in the same four-member, heterogeneous team as in STAD and TGT. The students are assigned chapters, short books, or other materials to read, usually social studies, biographies, or other expository material. Each team member is randomly assigned to become an expert on some aspect of the reading assignment. For example, in a unit on Mexico, one student on each team might become an expert on history, another on economics, a third on geography, and a fourth on culture. After reading the material, experts from different teams meet to discuss their common topics, and then they return to teach their topics to their teammates,. Finally, there is a quiz or other assessment on all topics. Scoring and team recognition based on improvement are the same as in STAD.

3.4 Team Accelerated Instruction (TAI)

Team Accelerated Instruction (Slavin, Leavey, & Madden, 1986) shares with STAD and TGT the use of four-member mixed ability learning teams and certificates for high-performing teams. In TAI, students enter and individualized sequence according to a placement test and then proceed at their own rates. In general, members of a team work on different units. Teammates check each others work using answer sheets and help one another with any problems. Final unit tests are taken without teammate help and are score by student monitors. Each week, teachers total the number of units completed by all team members and give certificates or other team rewards to teams that exceed a criterion score based on the

3.6 Group Investigation (GI)

Group Investigation, developed by Shlomo and Yael Sharan at the University of Tel Aviv, is a

general classroom-organization plan in which students work in small groups using cooperative inquiry, group discussion, and cooperative planning and projects (Sharan and Sharan, 1992). In this method, students form their own two-tosix-member groups. The groups choose topics from a unit being studied by the entire class, break these topics into individual tasks, and carry out the activities necessary to prepare group reports. Each group then presents or displays its findings to the entire class.

3.7 Learning Together (LT)

David and Roger Johnson at the University of Minnesota developed the Learning Together model of cooperative learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1987; Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1991). The methods they have researched involve students working in four- or five-member heterogeneous groups on assignment sheets. The groups hand in a single sheet, and receive praise and rewards based on the group product.

researched approaches to cooperative learning that emphasize use of discovery-oriented projects, particularly in science, math, and social studies. A major focus of Complex Instruction is on building respect for all of the abilities students have. Projects in Complex instruction require a wide variety of roles and skills, and teachers point out how every student is good at something that helps the group succeed. Complex Instruction has particularly been used in bilingual education and in heterogeneous classes containing language minority students, where materials are often available in Spanish as well as English.

3.9 The Meta-Analysis Result of Cooperative Learning Methods

Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne (2000) reported their meta-analysis result of cooperative learning methods. According to their study, the cooperative learning methods can be ranked by the size of the effect they have on achievement and by the number of comparisons available as table 1.

3.8 Complex Instruction (CI)

Elizabeth Cohen (1986) and her colleagues at Stanford University have developed and Table 1. Ranking of Cooperative Learning Methods
Method LT STAD TGT GI Jigsaw TAI CIRC Coop V Comp .85 .51 .48 .36 .29 .25 .18 n 26 15 9 2 9 7 7 Method LT GI TGT TAI STAD CIRC Jigsaw Coop v Ind 1.04 .62 .58 .33 .29 .18 .13 n 57 1 5 8 14 1 5

When the impact of cooperative lessons is compared with competitive learning, Learning Together promotes the greatest effect, followed by STAD, TGT, GI, Jigsaw, TAI, and finally CIRC. When the impact of cooperative lessons is compared with individualistic learning, Learning Together promotes the greatest effect, followed by GI, TGT, TAI, STAD, Jigsaw, and CIRC. There are reasons, however, why these rankings should be suggestive only. The few number of studies conducted on several of the methods makes the effect sizes very tentative. In addition, different measures of achievement were used in the different studies. The confidence educators can have in the effect sizes, furthermore, is inversely related to the number of studies of studies that have been conducted on the method. When the methods are ranked by the number of effects associated with each finding, for the cooperative versus competitive comparison, the ranking of the methods is Learning

Together, STAD, Jigsaw, TGT, TAI, CIRC, and GI. For the cooperative versus individualistic comparison, the ranking is Learning Together, STAD, TAI, TGT, GI, and CIRC (Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Stanne, M. B., 2000).

3.10 Web-Based Collaborative Learning Methods

Web-based collaborative learning methods should be selected based on how to optimize learning performance. Two principles should be considered, one is the selected collaborative learning methods should be the best one compared with others, another is these methods should be easily applied in the webbased learning environment. According to the described above, LT, STAD, TGT, GI, Jigsaw, TAI, and CIRC can be adopted. These collaborative learning methods include different learning process (Slavin, R. E., 1995), which these processes should be

used to conduct how to develop collaborative learning environment.


4. Web-Based Collaborative Learning Strategies

The experience gained to date suggests that the various methodological approaches can be grouped into two main categories: on in which interpersonal communication and information exchange are the prevailing features; and a second category privileging joint development of a common product (Trentin, G., 1999). In web-based learning environment, learner can easily to get learning material through various learning skills, e.g., web page browsing skill, knowledge search skill, and communication skill, etc. Simulating collaborative learning process should be mainly adapted some strategies as follows.

into different learning groups, face-to-face communication, searching learning material in webbased environment, and continuing group learning process when they are in their home. These learning processes have two forms, one is synchronous, and the other is asynchronous. Web-based environment and classroom-based environment is complementary each other.

5. Conclusions
Collaborative learning in web-based environment possesses very different characteristics compared with classroom-based environment. Some methods and strategies stated in this paper are mainly developed to apply in the web-based collaborative learning environment. Definitely, some web-based collaborative learning methods and strategies came from classroom-based environment. These methods and strategies should adapt the characteristic of webbased environment. According to our experience, the optimum of collaborative learning performance should integrate collaborative learning web-based and classroom-based together.

4.1 Learning Through Interpersonal Communication

Formulating and wording ones ideas as well as responding to the ideas of other group members are major cognitive abilities (Harasim, 1989). Active participation creates an information-rich environment in which each student can find a variety of perspectives on a given idea or subject. In web-based environment, learner can use some learning tools to realize interpersonal communication, e.g., email, realtime chat, BBS forum, and videoconference, etc, which learner can easy to change their idea and thinking.

6. References
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4.2 Learning Through Collaborative Production

In learning through collaborative production, the crucial point is to structure work in a way that will lead to production of a common item. Collaborative production is the outcomes of on-line group, which it can be considered as important object for collaborative learning performance evaluation. There are a lot of methods to evaluate collaborative production, e.g., inter-group evaluation or tutor evaluation, etc. The evaluation result can be assigned to each peermate in the same learning group.

4.3 Web-Based and Classroom-Based Collaborative Learning Should be Integrated Together

Web-based learning environment should be integrated into classroom-based environment. Web-based collaborative learning simulates classroom-based collaborative learning, which there is some phases cannot be simulated, e.g., face-to-face interaction and body language display, etc. Students can be organized

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