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Steps toward computer-supported collaborative learning for large classes

Renzi, S. and Klobas, J. (2000) Steps toward computer-supported collaborative learning for large classes. Journal of Educational Technology and Society, 3 (3). pp. 317-328.

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This paper describes first steps taken at an Italian business university to use computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) to enhance the quality of teaching and learning for students in large classes. We describe the educational environment, goals, design of CSCL activities, and impact of the new course design on teachers, students, and administrators. We confirm that CSCL can be used to enhance on-campus learning, but that many adjustments need to be made. Students appreciate a shared electronic repository for project materials, and a space where they can record reflections when they cannot meet face-to-face. Substantive tasks should not be very complex while students are learning to work in a CSCL environment. The initial impact on teaching staff is substantial, but some practical techniques can reduce post- implementation impact by managing communication among students and between students and teachers. Other success factors include strong co-operation among all those involved and flexibility in many aspects of course operation. Plans for wider implementation should recognise differences in the potential contribution of computer-supported teaching and learning across disciplines, and differences in teachers' needs for computer-support and for training. These differences may result in different times for diffusion of computer-supported initiatives throughout a course, unit, or university.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: International Forum of Educational Technology and Society
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