Saturday, February 20th, 2010...3:11 pm
Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL)
‘If we now situate knowledge building in groups or communities, we can observe the construction and evolution of the knowledge in the artifacts that are produced, in the sentences spoken, sketches drawn and texts inscribed…..building collaborative knowledge, making shared meaning, ….and creating significant artifacts are foundational activities in group processes’ Gerry Stahl (2009)
The emerging field of CSCL focuses on investigating how the affordances of learning technologies can impact on small group collaborative work. Stahl, Koschmann and Suthers identify several key features of CSCL environments, in that they are reconfigurable and dynamic, and that in their ability to document the interactions and process of collaboration they ‘turn communication into substance’ (Dillenbourg, 2005), providing a ‘persistent record of interaction and collaboration as a resource for intersubjective learning’ (2006, p12). Different platforms have different orientations, as Wenger (2009) et al maintain, some are more suited to informal, collaborative learning whist others orient more towards individual, formal learning. Stahl notes that
‘Different technologies can provide different kinds of support for the construction and maintenance of shared conceptions. ….. Designers cannot predict many ways that these spaces will be used without observing actual groups of interacting students trying to work out their tasks situated within specific environments’ (2008, P6)
The knowledge produced in such interactions is situated in the activity of creation itself, in what Wenger characterizes as a process of reification (1998). Stahl emphasizes this as central to the work of collaborative learning, creating what he calls ‘knowledge artifacts’, that are constructed collaboratively in virtual shared spaces. Indeed, many authors point to the potential of computer mediated communication (CMC) as superior to traditional face-to-face encounters. Wegerif notes that the ‘ease by which anyone can ‘take the floor’ and the possibility of multiple threading for example, make it a better medium for an “ideal speech situation” than face-to-face dialogue’ (2006). The co-construction of digital artifacts then encapsulates the activities of learning and knowledge sharing, providing a reference point for everyone concerned to return to; a digital trail of the thought processes of creativity.