Collaboration is supported in Zebu through shared creation and editing of pages and projects. Students with privileges to participate together in a project can create pages and edit any of the pages within the project, or any of the objects within the pages, thus a project is a shared space for the creation of representations. Communication between students is possible within Discussion objects that can be included in any page (see Figure 10). The discussions can be valuable for supporting discourse between students about the topics they are studying. In Zebu, the environment for constructive discourse is tightly integrated with the tools for resource- based activities.
Zebu is an educational groupware technology which facilitates the use of standard WWW software for collaborative project-based learning. It shows promise in helping teachers and students overcome some technical and practical, educational problems inherent in WWW-based technologies, allowing them to more fully realise the potentials of the WWW as a technology for collaboration in education.
Initial testing of a prototype of the Zebu system was carried out during the previous school year. Other projects which were conducted with the prototype included "BookTalk," a project for students to share and discuss reviews of books they had read, a creative writing project--"Monstres"--carried out by grade 1/2 French immersion students, and a joint project between a grade 3/4 and a grade 5/6 class to study tree species and habitats in British Columbia. Currently Zebu is being used at a variety of sites ranging from grade 1 to 12. Use of the Zebu software at these sites is being investigated in terms of the technical and educational challenges discussed above.
We would like to thank the teachers and students at Port Moody Secondary School in Port Moody, BC for their participation in this research. As well, we thank the members of the Development and Educational Support teams at MC2 Learning Systems for their support of this work. Parts of this research were supported by the Science Council of British Columbia.
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