A Case Study on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in Spanish Schools

A Case Study on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in Spanish Schools

Marcos Cabezas (Department of Teaching, Organization and Research Methods, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain), Sonia Casillas (Department of Teaching, Organization and Research Methods, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain) and Azucena Hernández (Department of Teaching, Organization and Research Methods, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/JITR.2016040105
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Abstract

This article presents the main results from eight case studies carried out at different Spanish schools. Using a common protocol, the authors compared different cases of schools in which computer-supported collaborative learning experiences were carried out in order to identify what standard actions they had in common. In order to facilitate data collection and analysis, the authors opted for a mixed methodology, the instruments being interviews, observation, document analysis, a monitoring guide for the teachers and a semantic differential for the students. It was concluded that collaborative learning strategies favour students, since all of them benefit from constructing knowledge together, sharing responsibilities, taking ideas more in depth, having greater autonomy and control over their own learning, and helping each other in the process.
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2. Theoretical Foundations

During the last few years, collaborative learning has been a subject of great interest in the context of educational research. This has given rise to numerous studies that highlight the potential of the collaboration process in student learning, the building of knowledge, the development of different abilities and improvement in academic performance. The results of all these research studies have gradually fostered the integration of collaborative learning in the teaching process as a highly suitable strategy for responding to the demands of today’s society, and more specifically, the skills that students of the 21st century should possess (Goikoetxea and Pascual, 2005; Onrubia, Colomina & Engel, 2008; So and Brush, 2008; Valle, Rivera, Valle & Vallet, 2015; Torrego and Negro, 2014; Young, Klemz & Murphy, 2003).

Authors such as Rosario (2008, p. 134) point out that “collaborative learning permits objectives to be attained that are qualitatively richer in content, thus ensuring quality and accuracy in the ideas and solutions posed” in addition to “fostering in students the generation of knowledge, since they find themselves involved in the carrying out of research, in which their contribution is very valuablebecause they are no longer just passive entities receiving information” (my translation). We could thus affirm that collaborative learning prepares students to take on group commitments and responsibilities, at the same time that they learn to accept other points of view and criticism, to discover solutions that help everyone, to reasonably expound different ideas and approaches and to become familiar with democratic processes (Gros, 2011).

Currently, the implementation of a collaborative learning methodology and the acquisition of a whole series of conceptual, procedural and attitudinal skills on the part of students is favoured and promoted by the use of technological tools. The so-called Web 2.0 or social web, a concept that came to characterise the Internet not only as a space for reading, but also for writing, and which emphasises a new model of communication in which interrelation processes among persons or groups predominate through the use of a large amount and variety of tools for managing contents and information, is a good ally for building knowledge in a collaborative way(Cebrián, 2008; De la Torre, 2006; Zabalza & Arnau, 2009).

It is these tools, which are mainly free of charge and easy to handle, that are facilitating the implementation of socio-constructive work methods focusing on collaborative student learning.

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