The Design and Development of a Theory Driven Process for the Creation of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning in an Online Environment

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Virginia Tech

Educators are struggling to meet the ever-increasing challenges of preparing students to meet the demands of a global society. The importance of collaboration and social interaction in online education has been well documented (Berge, 1998; Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989, Fulford & Zhang, 1993; Gunawardena & McIssac, 2003; Kanuka & Anderson, 1998; Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999; Sardamalia & Bereiter, 1994). Teachers and instructional designers are struggling to change the academic environment to meet the needs of millennial learners. The purpose of this study is to develop a theory driven process for designing computer-supported collaborative learning in an online environment. A careful analysis of the process for creating collaborative online instruction is conducted and a design strategy for the process is developed. The study provides suggested guidelines for practitioners to create collaborative online instruction. The design procedures emphasize social interaction to allow learners opportunities to explore, discover, and negotiate meaning in an authentic context. Online instruction requires the coupling of multiple areas of expertise to be successful. Although the pedagogical principles are the same, the global implications of "flat world" technology require an important weaving of collaborative interaction, graphic design, and pedagogy. Technology provides the transportation for achieving a collaborative environment; and, quality pedagogical practices provide the GPS (guidance positioning system) to direct collaborative instruction to its ultimate destination–knowledge building.

Collaboration, Distance Education, Web-based Instruction, Instructional Design, Online Instruction, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning