Academic journal article Journal of Interactive Learning Research

Distributed Cognition in the Context of Virtual Collaborative Learning

Academic journal article Journal of Interactive Learning Research

Distributed Cognition in the Context of Virtual Collaborative Learning

Article excerpt

In this article, the authors address the distribution of cognition in small virtual group learning. In particular, they examine how the distribution of cognition is manifested in the context of student-student interaction and how it can be studied in a virtual learning environment. For this reason, they define a conceptual framework of collaborative learning situations for modelling and understanding how learning evolves and how knowledge is constructed among students that cooperate on a task. One important issue to consider is the types and levels of interaction and knowledge, which is manifested, in a collaborative learning situation. Their approach aims at identifying the various types of interaction produced and examining how an interaction type is related to the learning that results from it. This framework allows us to study how distribution of cognition is transformed and becomes common to all group members.

**********

In this article an experimental collaborative problem-solving situation that takes place in a virtual learning environment is described. In particular, an approach to analysing and modelling asynchronous collaborative interactions which are realised by several groups of students that cooperate from a distance to carry out a project, is presented.

The analysis of the data performed was based on an integrated approach to modelling educational interactions and, in particular, on an integration of several models and methods: the Negotiation Linguistic Exchange Model (Martin, 1992); a model of Discourse Contributions (Clark & Schaefer, 1989); the types of learning activities underlying a participant turn (Self, 1994); and the Rhetorical Structure Theory (Mann & Thompson, 1988). Experimentation with this approach resulted in interesting insights that concern both the social and the material distribution of cognition at all the three general phases that comprise the realisation of the project: group formation, project development, and project evaluation.

Regarding the social distribution of cognition, the authors examined how the distribution of cognition is manifested in the context of student-student interaction and how it can be studied in a virtual learning environment. This involves the definition of appropriate collaborative learning situations and the distinction of two levels of student interaction, the discourse and the action level. At the discourse level, the essential element is the interaction among peers (participants need to interact with each other to plan an activity, distribute tasks, explain, clarify, give information and opinions, elicit information, evaluate, and contribute to the resolution of problematic issues, etc.). At the action level, task objects (e.g., documents, graphics) are created and manipulated.

The approach focused more on the analysis of the discourse level by seeing discourse as a medium and means through which the distribution of cognition is effected. More specifically, the distribution of cognition in discourse is studied and analysed through a dialogue model of asynchronous discourse which is defined in terms of types and structure of student-student interaction.

Regardind the material distribution of cognition, first the types of tools used to realise a real problem-solving situation cooperatively in distance are examined. Then, the relationship between the nature of the task, the tool, and the tool user is considered. And finally, the cognitive factors that affect both the learning process and collaborative dialogue features (such as roles and group dynamics) that support and promote more effective learning, especially distance collaborative learning is addressed.

AN APPROACH TO MODELLING A REAL COOPERATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING SITUATION

In this section, the technological support provided to the students to carry out the project successfully is presented, then a number of constraints and conditions, which had to be taken into account and, which emerge both from the tool used and the nature of the experience itself are pointed out, and finally the approach to modelling a real cooperative problem-solving situation, where 30 students participated divided into 8 working groups is explained. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.