Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning and Assessment: A Strategy for Developing Online Learning Communities in Continuing Education

Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning and Assessment: A Strategy for Developing Online Learning Communities in Continuing Education

Joyce W. Gikandi (Mount Kenya University, Kenya)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0892-2.ch017
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Abstract

This chapter focuses on re-interpreting the findings of a recent study based on collaborative learning perspectives. The study utilized a case study design in which two online postgraduate courses were investigated as a collective case study. Online observations, analysis of the archived course content and interview transcripts were used as data collection techniques. The data from multiple sources were triangulated. Qualitative techniques were used in data analysis and descriptive statistics were integrated to extend the meaning of qualitative data. The findings of the study suggest that social interactivity is pivotal to facilitating meaningful learning in formal online education. The findings further illustrate that development of productive communities in continuing (in-service) education is a gradual process that evolves through four stages starting from community of interest to community of practice.
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Introduction

Online and blended learning have become common place in 21st century higher education. In reviewing related literature, Gikandi (2012) indentified that computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) continues to be recognized as an important pedagogical approach in formal education. In particular, CSCL has been identified as one approach that can promote flexible thinking and learning skills, which are important in supporting learners to engage in higher-order learning and robust knowledge building (Hämäläinen & Häkkinen, 2010; Mukama, 2010; Wegerif, 2006). In the light of this, the purpose of this chapter is to re-interpret the revisited study with the aim to draw some insights that can inform online pedagogical strategies, especially in the context of continuing education. In the following sub-section, a brief review of the literature on CSCL is provided in order to highlight its key role in higher education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Shared Authenticity: Learning experiences that emerge through engagement in an authentic activity within a social context that allows participants to actively collaborate as they construct, share, negotiate, evaluate and validate meanings, from which individuals reconstruct interpretations in ways that is meaningful within their own conceptual knowledge structures.

Formative Assessment: Also known as ‘assessment for learning’. It’s a holistic iterative process of establishing what, how much and how well students are learning in relation to the learning goals and expected outcomes in order to inform tailored formative feedback and support further learning.

Learning Community: These are formal groups with common educational purpose where members are constantly learning new skills and working to discover and propagate knowledge; In particular, where both teacher and peers are perceived as key learning resources.

Meaningful Learning: Learning that is robust and transferable to real-life professional practices and contexts; in online learning contexts, it is manifested as active, collaborative and reflective discourse in ways that foster self-regulation.

Online social presence: This embody the experience of being engaged with other participants (the teacher and peers) to create opportunities for meaningful interactions and related social processes (particularly collaboration), a critical antecedent for meaningful learning.

Online Learning: A form of distance education (or e-learning) primarily conducted through web-based ICT to support the teaching and learning process, and does not require the teacher and the learner to be available at the same time and place.

Engaged Learning: Learning environments that provide learners with opportunities to be active, creative and critical as well as being creators of their own perspective and identity, thus promoting their learning experiences.

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