Designing Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools to Support Project-Based Learning: An Activity-Oriented Approach

Designing Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools to Support Project-Based Learning: An Activity-Oriented Approach

Ronnie Cheung (School of Information Technology, Engineering and Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia) and Doug Vogel (Department of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China)
DOI: 10.4018/jssoe.2012040101
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Abstract

Collaborative learning involves small groups of students working together to solve problems for the purpose of learning. There are a large number of researches that focus on the technical aspects of computer-mediated environments for collaborative learning. Very few studies have examined the design of Web 2.0 technologies to support collaborative learning using an activity-oriented approach. In this study, activity theory was used as a design framework for collaborative learning in a Web 2.0 environment using Google Applications technology. By employing an activity-oriented design method, a collaborative platform was developed to facilitate social learning activities that are mediated by artifacts and collaborative tools using Google Applications technology.
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Background Of The Study

Collaborative environments in education involve small groups of students working together to solve problems for the purpose of learning. Google Applications (Rienzo & Han, 2009) consist of a set of tools developed by Google to facilitate collaboration. They incorporate features found in traditional office applications, as well as providing a common, shared space for collaborative work. There are three main applications provided by Google that facilitate collaboration: Google Docs, Google Forms, and Google Sites. Google Docs technology serves as a common platform for sharing documents in Google accounts. Google Forms provide a kind of spreadsheet document that can be used for developing online forms and surveys. Google Sites offer the tools for developing Web sites for collaborative work, handling documents, managing updates and wikis, and hosting forums for discussions. The Google Applications platform was introduced at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to be used for courses involving collaborative projects in an undergraduate course. To enhance students’ effectiveness in using this collaborative technology, the current study investigates the relationship between Web 2.0 tools and education involving collaborative projects. In greater detail, this study aims at developing a design framework for collaborative learning using Google Applications Technology. To avoid overgeneralizations, this study concentrates on the development of design frameworks for collaborative learning environments in a given course context, where the consequences of design changes can be analyzed in-depth by the researcher.

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