Concept Maps as a Tool for Promoting Online Collaborative Learning in Virtual Teams with Pre-Service Teachers

Concept Maps as a Tool for Promoting Online Collaborative Learning in Virtual Teams with Pre-Service Teachers

Wan Ng, Ria Hanewald
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-992-2.ch005
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The chapter provides an overview of concept mapping and a description of a theoretical framework that adopts concept maps as a tool to enhance collaborative learning in virtual teams in an online learning environment. It was developed by drawing on the relevant literature and on research in online collaborative learning in the pre-service teacher education programs at an Australian university. The framework is underpinned by socio-constructivist learning theories for collaborative learning with online technologies. The use of a concept map to illustrate the framework is presented and the pedagogical benefits are highlighted. The framework is applicable to all higher education courses in promoting collaborative virtual team learning.
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Concept Mapping

The two closely related and rather similar terms of concept maps and mind maps are often used interchangeably. It is therefore necessary to clarify the differences between them to avoid further misunderstandings.

A Definition of Concept Maps

Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts. Words on the line, referred to as linking words or linking phrases, specify the relationship between the two concepts. (Novak & Cañas, 2006, p. 1)

The two most distinguishing attributes of concept maps are the hierarchical structure in which concepts are represented and the use of cross-links, which indicate the relationships between the knowledge components. The hierarchical organisation of concept maps usually depicts the most general concept at the top and more specific concepts underneath. The cross-links show how concepts in the knowledge area are connected to each other. Both of these features are central in aiding creative thinking.

A Definition of Mind Maps

Mind maps use a central word, idea or other item arranged intuitively around the central word. A mind map starts with a key notion that radiates out into branches. This free flow of ideas promotes brainstorming. These tree structures generate and chart elements without the immediacy of having to establish an intrinsic conceptual framework.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Concept Map: A concept map is a diagram that depicts concepts and their hierarchical relationships.

Concept Mapping: A technique to show concepts and their relationships with each other through labeled arrows.

Mind mapping: A process that brainstorms ideas, words, tasks or other elements and arranges them in groups around a central notion.

Mind Map: A mind map is a diagram uses intuition to depict words, ideas or other items in branches around a central key word or idea.

Online collaboration: Also known as computer-supported collaboration (CSC). It uses technology such as email, calendaring, text chat, wiki to help people work together for a common goal.

Virtual Teams: A group of two or more people who work for a common goal in different geographic locations and sometimes even organizations and time zones through the use of electronic communication.

Offline collaboration: A process by which people share knowledge and resources to support each other’s activities towards a mutual outcome.

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