Knowledge has become an important factor in the success of organizations. Several authors reflect this in their use of terms such as knowledge society (e.g., Nonaka, 1994) or knowledge age (e.g., Bereiter, 2002). The role of knowledge has changed fundamentally with the development of a knowledge society. Knowledge is still an indispensable resource for the individual as well as for an organization, but the emphasis lies on the creation of new knowledge (see Nonaka, 1994). This change also has consequences for the individual acquisition of knowledge and, in turn, for learning. In traditional learning scenarios, knowledge was seen as a commodity that could be transferred directly from one brain to another. This resulted in an interaction between teacher and learner, in which the teacher had an active role and presented parts of his knowledge to the learners, who passively received and memorized them (see Ertl, Winkler, & Mandl, 2007). However, studies have shown that whilst learning by such presentations of explicit knowledge enabled learners to reproduce it in tests, they failed to transfer it to new situations and often failed to apply it in the creation of new knowledge—the knowledge learners acquired remained inert (Renkl, Mandl, & Gruber, 1996).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Environment for E-Collaboration: Working place of an e-collaborator. The environment provides all the tools and resources applied during e-collaboration.
Collaborative Teaching: Method of education in which a group of learners acquire knowledge by alternately assuming the role of teachers.
Learning Case: Description of a real-world scenario, which helps learners to apply their knowledge.
Mental Artifact: Immaterial product, which e-collaboration partners construct during the process of e-collaboration.
Mutual Dependency: Requirement for successful e-collaboration. Mutual dependency ensures that both partners can benefit from e-collaboration and it may reduce undesired group effects.
E-Collaborative Knowledge Construction: Synchronized e-collaboration with the goal to acquire or create new knowledge.
Explicit Knowledge: Knowledge that can be intentionally expressed and quantified. Examples of this kind of knowledge include facts and descriptions.
Shared Problem Space: The shared knowledge of e-collaboration partners which is necessary to solve a problem collaboratively.
Application Sharing: Mechanism that allows e-collaboration partners to work with the same application on the same document simultaneously.
Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge, which is acquired rather unconsciously by socialization or practice. It may be seen as complementary to explicit knowledge.