Proceedings of CSCL '97: The Second International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning, December 10-14, 1997, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

By Rogers Hall; Naomi Miyake et al. | Go to book overview

The Mission to Mars Webliographer: A Principled Approach to the Design of a CSCL Tool

Anthony J. Petrosino, Jay Pfaffman and the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt† Learning Technology Center, Vanderbilt University


Abstract

The Mission to Mars Webliographer is a tool which allows children and adults to collaborate and synthesize Internet resources for research in context rich, sustained learning environments. In communicating the process of software development and analysis that went into the Mission to Mars Webliographer, we use a framework first proposed by Koschmann et al. ( 1996). This framework is a four step model which articulates the desired instructional features of the tool, analyzes current practice in light of design goals, develops a specialization for the tool based on both the instructional requirements of the setting and the known capabilities of the technology, and produces an implementation that allows for adaptation to instructional practice.

Preliminary findings indicate that the Mission to Mars Webliographer is an effective tool for time management issues concerning student research in project-based classrooms utilizing the Internet. In addition, teacher interviews and classroom observations indicate that student's Internet use is more focused and on-task when utilizing the Mission to Mars Webliographer as opposed to more traditional Internet in research activities.

Keywords-- Project-Based Instruction, Collaborative Learning, World-Wide Web, Learning Environments, URL Database Search Engine.

In this paper, we illustrate the reflexive nature between theory and practice ( Glaser, 1994) in terms of the development of CSCL software for a problem to project-based environment ( Barron et al., in press; Soloway, Krajcik, Blumenfeld, and Marx, 1996) known as Mission to Mars ( Petrosino, 1994). Specifically, we will discuss the use of a computer tool called the Mission to Mars Webliographer which allows children and adults to collaborate and synthesize Internet resources for research in context rich, sustained learning environments. In communicating this process of software use and development, we have found the work of Koschmann et al. ( 1996) to be of particular assistance in providing a principled approach to the design of technologies for CSCL. After a brief explanation of the unit and past research, we will use the four steps of Koschmann et al.'s theory-based design of CSCL tools (see Table 1.0) to frame our discussion on the principles surrounding the Mission to Mars learning environment as well as the conditions which prompted the development and implementation of the Mission to Mars Webliographer. In this manner, we will demonstrate the reflexive nature of research and practice informing each other.


Table 1.0 Koschmann et al. (1996)'s Principled Approach to the Design of CSCL Tools
First Step: A Model of
Effective Instruction
and Design Goals
Articulate the desired
instructional features of the
planed innovation
Second Step: How May
Technology Assist
Analyze current practice in the
light of the design goals
Third Step: A Mutually
Beneficial Marriage of
Instruction and
Technology
Develop a specialization
based on both the
instructional requirements of
the setting and the known
capabilities of the proposed
technology
Fourth Step:
Flexibility and
Accommodation
Through Creative Use
Produce an implementation
that allows for adaptation to
instructional practice

Background

The Mission to Mars learning environment is designed to assist students in the practice of reflecting on their own learning and to develop

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