Many distance learning scenarios, for example, virtual seminars, use collaborative arrangements for learning. By applying them, they offer learners the chance to construct knowledge collaboratively. However, learners often do not possess the skills necessary for a beneficial collaboration. It is therefore important that learners are offered support in these learning scenarios. Scripts for collaborative learning can provide support. They can guide learners through their collaboration process (Ertl, Kopp, & Mandl, 2007b) and help them to acquire collaboration skills (Rummel & Spada, 2005). Scripts for collaboration were originally developed in order to support text comprehension. They facilitate two or more learners—who are similar as far as their existing knowledge and learning strategies are concerned— in their efforts to understand contents provided by theory texts. Collaboration scripts split this process into a sequence of smaller steps, assign each learner to a particular role, and offer a number of comprehension strategies, such as questions, feedback, and elaboration. Each one of these learners has a defined role to play, which in turn is associated with certain strategies and varies within the different phases.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Assignment of Roles: Collaboration scripts often require learners to adopt certain roles during the collaborative learning process.
Text-based Communication: Collaboration partners communicate by typing statements with their keyboards. This style of communication does not necessarily take place in real time. Examples of text-based communication are e-mails, chat, and forums.
Clarifying: Strategy of discussing and resolving comprehension difficulties in a given text.
Summarizing: Strategy of condensing the content of a text, so that the important details are clearly visible.
Questioning: Strategy in which learners pose and answer questions about the content of a text to one another to enhance their comprehension.
Collaborative Learning: Method of learning by which a group of learners collaborates to achieve improved learning results.
Sequencing: The method of dividing of a learning process into a number of stages.
Predictions: Strategy of splitting a text into various paragraphs in which the users attempt to make a founded guess at what the next paragraph will discuss.
Videoconferencing: Users use Web cams and headsets to have a face-to-face conversation via Internet. Videoconferencing is often combined with the use of a shared application to enable users to work collaboratively with the same software tool.
Collaboration Script: An aid to collaborative learning, in which the learning process is divided into various stages.