Collaborative Knowledge Construction in Online Learning Environment: Why to Promote and How to Investigate

Collaborative Knowledge Construction in Online Learning Environment: Why to Promote and How to Investigate

Rikki Rimor (Open University of Israel, Israel) and Yigal Rosen (Open University of Israel, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-749-7.ch010

Abstract

The current study is based on academic on-line course and examines the effectiveness of collaborative learning vs. individual learning. Fifty eight graduate students in the Open University participated in course entitled “From information to knowledge” collaborating in a Google Docs environment as their final task of the course. The purpose of the study was to examine whether students with a collaborative learning orientation differ from students with an individual learning orientation, as was measured through their contribution to the process of knowledge construction in a collaborative online database environment. The students’ contribution to the database was analyzed through personal and collective criteria of knowledge construction. The results showed differential achievements among learners with different learning orientations. While the ‘collaborative learners’ contributed more collective knowledge, the ‘individual learners’ focused on constructing their own personal knowledge. These findings have important implications on planning, coordinating and evaluating collaborative learning environments.
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Case Description

Collaborative knowledge construction refers to mutual engagement of peers of equivalent learning prerequisites in learning tasks with intertwined layers of socio-cognitive processes (e.g. Berieter, & Scardamalia 1989). Creating effective collaborative learning environment may entail cognitive challenges and social dilemmas which involves processes of reflection and argumentation. The purpose of this study was to examine whether learners with a collaborative learning orientation differ from learners with an individual learning orientation, as was measured through their contribution to the process of knowledge construction in a collaborative online database environment. The study examined students’ contribution to the database using personal and collective criteria of knowledge construction. Students’ collaborative learning orientation was measured by their previous contribution to the forum of the e-learning course. This paper presents the rationale for collaborative knowledge construction in online learning environments and discusses the results of the study regarding collaborate knowledge building. Measures of individual and collective knowledge are presented. The relationship between these measures and their contribution to e-learning environments are further discussed and challenged.

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