Computer-Mediated Learning Groups

Computer-Mediated Learning Groups

Charles R. Graham, Melanie Misanchuk
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-553-5.ch088
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Online learning has seen tremendous growth over the past decade in both the corporate and higher education sectors of society. This has been facilitated by rapid increases in the availability of computer- and network-based technologies for communication and sharing of information. The U.S. National Center for Educational Statistics (2003) recently reported that for the 2000-01 academic year, 2- and 4-year institutions offered over 127,000 different distance education (DE) courses and had over three million enrollments. Of the institutions offering DE courses, 90% reported using the Internet and asynchronous communication as an instructional delivery mode (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2003). In the corporate sector, the American Society for Training & Development reported record levels technology-mediated training (or e-learning) accompanied by slight decreases in face-to-face classroom training (Thompson, Koon, Woodwell, & Beauvais, 2002). At the same time, there has been an increased awareness among distance educators and researchers regarding the importance of human interaction in the learning process. These two trends have driven the study of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and computer support for collaborative learning (CSCL). Groupwork has long been an important instructional strategy used in face-to-face learning environments and is now being explored in computer-mediated environments. This article will define critical aspects of computer-mediated groupwork and outline benefits and challenges to using computer-mediated groups as an instructional strategy. Additional details for the research presented in this article can be found in full-length publications by the authors (Graham, 2002a, 2002b, 2003; Graham & Misanchuk, 2003).

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