Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effects of Representation Tool (Visible-Annotation) Types to Support Knowledge Building in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effects of Representation Tool (Visible-Annotation) Types to Support Knowledge Building in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

Collaborative learning is a method that enables learners to share each other's knowledge and foster collaborative knowledge construction (Eryilmaz, van der Pol, Ryan, Clark, & Mary, 2013). It is effective for enhancing the internalization of knowledge and promoting a higher quality of collaborative knowledge construction (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Morgan, Whorton, & Gunsalus, 2000). In particular, learners use collaborative learning to share knowledge and solve problems in ill-structured problem-solving learning environments (Beers, Kirschner, Boshuizen, & Gijselaers, 2005). Communication activities that include professional knowledge sharing and different perspectives can enhance the level of learning performance (Lomi, Larsen, & Ginsberg, 1997). However, in the process of achieving higher-quality solutions, many restrictions can be imposed due to the learners' diverse perspectives in such areas as sharing problem awareness, negotiating a variety of opinions, and building collaborative knowledge based on communicative activities (Fuks, Pimantel, & Lucena, 2006). In addition, collaboration load can occur in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments, and this can lead to ineffective learning processes and unsuccessful learning performance.

Eryilmaz et al. (2013) argued that collaboration load has consistently occurred in asynchronous discussions. This might have been due to the lack of a shared frame of reference to help team members identify which part of learning content was related to each opinion and individual claim in knowledge building (Hewitt, 2005; Suthers, Vatrapu, Medina, Joseph, & Dwyer, 2008). To build a shared frame of reference in support of online discussions, some annotation functions have been used. The annotation functions provided by "Knowledge forum" and "Concept map" have allowed learners to show all postings in chronological order at one time, write comments pertaining to the related learning content, and share their individual understanding of the learning content. However, when attempts have been made to refer to specific parts of the learning content, the shared frame of reference has not been sufficient to identify the diversity of perspectives and integrate the opinions of team members at one time, which could increase collaboration load.

To overcome these limitations, Eryilmaz et al. (2013) proposed linked annotation. This is an innovative artifact for online discussion in which there is an overarching notion of a challengeable function linking a participant's contributions with the entire related text provided by the other participants or an instructor. The linked annotation function can play a significant role in forming a shared frame of reference to draw higher-level solutions through meaningful communications. In particular, it effectively supports the building of a common ground and lowers the effort needed to identify the related learning content through minimized coordination. Some empirical studies exploring the use of linked annotation have shown that collaboration load decreases and interactions such as assertiveness and conflict increase during online discussions (Ding, 2009; Eryilmaz, Alrushiedat, Kasemvilas, Mary, & van der Pol, 2009; Muhlpfordt & Wessner, 2005). Other studies have found that linked annotation has no influence on promoting interactions aimed at clarification and interpretation, and that there is no meaningful effect on collaborative learning outcomes (Eryilmaz et al., 2013; van der Pol, Admiraal, & Simons, 2006). These diverse perspectives might have resulted from a failure to consider the collaborative knowledge-building process when designing a representation tool (Beers et al., 2005; Rummel & Spada, 2005; Slof, Erkens, & Kirschner, 2010; Suther & Hundhausen, 2003).

According to the collaborative knowledge-building process, knowledge-sharing activities that clarify and interpret the meaning of learning content are a prerequisite to knowledge- construction activities that negotiate disparate opinions and derive solutions (Beers et al. …

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