A window into learning: case studies of online group communication and collaboration
preprintposted on 16.11.2006, 11:56 authored by Richard E.J. Jones, Louise Cooke
The two case studies presented explore the potential offered by in-depth qualitative analysis of students’ online discussion to enhance our understanding of how students learn. Both cases are used to illustrate how the monitoring and moderation of online student group communication can open up a ‘window into learning’, providing us with new insights into complex problem-solving and thinking processes. This concept is demonstrated with examples of students’ online interaction using the group collaboration tools offered by the Blackboard v.6 and WebCT Vista 3 Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) software platforms. These extracts offer examples of students’ ‘thinking aloud’ while problemsolving, showing how and why they arrived at particular outcomes and the underlying thought processes involved. It is argued that these insights into students’ learning processes can in turn offer us the opportunity to adapt our own teaching practice in order to achieve a better pedagogical ‘fit’ with the learning needs of our students. This may be, for example, through a more precise and targeted or more timely intervention on the part of a tutor to correct a misunderstanding that has become apparent through monitoring of student-tostudent discussion online. It is also suggested that looking through this ‘window’ enables us to concentrate our assessment more closely on the process of task completion, rather than focussing solely on the end product.
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