Laboratory Experiments in CSCL Activities

Laboratory Experiments in CSCL Activities

César A. Collazos (Universidad del Cauca, Colombia), Luis A. Guerrero (Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica), Jose A. Pino (Universidad de Chile, Chile), Flavia M. Santoro (Universidad do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Marcos Borges (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Neide dos Santos (Universidad do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Sergio Zapata (Universidad Nacional de San Juan, Argentina) and Wilson Sarmiento (Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1987-6.ch010
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Several groupware tools have been implemented within Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) research groups in order to test ideas and concepts currently being studied. It is very important to perform pilot-evaluations with these systems. The CSCW Lab is an environment for evaluating groupware within research groups. Four dimensions in assessing groupware were identified: context, collaboration, usability, and cultural impacts. In this chapter, the authors present a proposal to detail the collaboration level, specifically for CSCL domain applications. Understanding and analyzing the collaborative learning process requires a fine-grained sequential analysis of the group interaction in the context of learning goals. Several researchers in the area of cooperative work take as success criterion the quality of the group outcome. Nevertheless, recent findings are giving more importance to the quality of the “cooperation process” itself. The proposed model includes a set of guidelines to evaluate the usage of CSCL tools within a collaboration process defined along with the learning objectives. The authors have defined an experiment with a software tool instrumented to gather information that allowed them to verify the presence of a set of cooperation indicators, which in turn helped to determine the quality of the work process.
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2. The Cscw Lab

The CSCW Lab is a laboratory for conducting groupware pilot evaluations. Besides the physical space, it includes guidelines and instruments for executing groupware evaluations. Groupware evaluation involves a great amount of effort. The planning, design, accomplishment, and replication of an evaluation are costly activities (Ramage, 1999). The design of the experiment is an activity that should be carefully performed in order to guarantee that the results and measures obtained are relevant for interpretation.

The CSCW Lab is also a repository of information about groupware evaluations. The aim of this repository is to collect information about evaluations design, their results, and interpretations. Browsing this repository, evaluators can find guidelines for planning their own evaluations. Data of past evaluations could be used to compare against their own evaluation.

The strategy chosen to build this repository or knowledge base was to define and populate an ontology (Araujo, Santoro, & Borges, 2002). The dimensions in the CSCW Lab ontology are the core elements, associated with the other common concepts that exist in evaluations in general: instruments, data, products, results interpretations, and so forth (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

The CSCW lab ontology

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