Academic journal article International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education

Effects of Tutoring Modes with an Activity Dashboard in a CSCL Environment

Academic journal article International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education

Effects of Tutoring Modes with an Activity Dashboard in a CSCL Environment

Article excerpt


For several years, collaborative distance learning has been growing more and more popular, supported by the advance of interactive technologies. In a situation of collaborative face-toface activities, learners retain a direct and permanent perception of the others in the classroom and their actions. In contrast, in a context of collaborative distance learning, the learner is required to interact in a virtual environment. However, the communication tools (forums, chat, e-mail, etc.) cannot convey the richness of direct exchanges perfectly. This situation creates difficulties for the individuals involved in distance interaction since the lack of information about the perception of the other learners' activities creates confusion. In an attempt to identify and understand this phenomenon in distance learning, research in educational technologies emphasizes the concept of "awareness".

Literature Review

For Dourish and Belloti (1992), this collective awareness is characterized by the learners' knowledge and understanding of their peers' activities, which provides a context for their activity, and which eases the coordination of collective and collaborative tasks (Gutwin and Greenberg, 2002). Jermann and Dillenbourg (2008) fully agree with this idea. For them, the collaborative learning environment should provide access to data that tells learners where they are in their work process. From a pedagogical point of view, visualization of information can be associated with a metacognitive activity to the extent that learners have the opportunity to analyze their environment, make decisions and then to assess the consequences. In a way, this ability to trace their activity stimulates the students' use of self-management strategies and this allows them to define goals. Regarding this notion of sharing traces, Clark and Brennan (1991) provide an interesting contribution in the context of their work in psycholinguistics. According to these authors, several partners can adapt and plan their behavior more easily according to what they know about each other. This mutual knowledge facilitates what is called "grounding" (shared understanding).

Grounding is the principle according to which the partners can provide a common basis, on which they rely throughout the whole interaction. In this perspective, Gutwin and Greenberg (2002) put forward the concept of "workspace awareness" which is the sum of the knowledge that a person has of the workspace in which they operate with others. These authors distinguish the elements of awareness relating to the present (synchronous) or past events (asynchronous). Synchronous information may include the location of a learner in the shared space or the activities they are performing. Asynchronous information is related to the history of the learners' activities and, notably, enables an individual to learn about the activities performed in the environment since their last connection.

While the principle of awareness used to be defined ex negative, as an artifice seeking to create the illusion of face-to-face interaction, the recent literature tends to highlight the importance of offering tools that enable the display of information directly connected to social and cognitive mediation (Buder, 2010). Compared to a face-to-face situation, information is more easily observable in a digital environment thanks to the ability to digitally track the learning process. To understand this complex process, we can refer to Leinonen, Järvelä & Häkkinen (2005). Starting from analyses of the interactions within collaborative groups, the authors distinguish two levels of self-regulation at the interpersonal level: co-regulation and shared regulation. Shared regulation refers to the situation where a member (or several members) controls the activity of the whole group. This form of regulation can relate to the planning of the tasks to be carried out, and the level of progression by the group in the learning process (Saab, 2012). …

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