The Role of Outside Affordances in Developing Expertise in Online Collaborative Learning

The Role of Outside Affordances in Developing Expertise in Online Collaborative Learning

Craig Deed (La Trobe University, Australia) and Anthony Edwards (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4157-0.ch016
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Abstract

Web 2.0 tools have introduced a dynamic aspect to learning in contemporary classrooms. Pre-service teachers require expertise in the use of these spaces. The metaphor of outsideness—engaging with distant peers using Web 2.0 tools—has affordances that support the development of this expertise. In this paper, a conceptual framework is outlined that links a model of developing expertise with the affordances of outsideness and a case study of pre-service teacher education is used to demonstrate the framework’s possibilities and limitations. Implications are drawn for the use of online collaborative spaces in higher education.
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Conceptual Framework

Table 1 outlines how the elements of developing expertise are afforded by the metaphor of outsideness. Following the table is a description of each of the elements and corresponding affordances. Affordances are features of a context that allow or potentially contribute to the resultant activity (Greeno, 1994). Affordances and the ability and perceptions of individuals are integrated. Therefore, affordances are realized through the individual’s perceptions about what and how something can be done. In this case the context is online collaborative learning, and one affordance may be the flexibility this offers to participants in terms of how often, or the way, they contribute.

Table 1.
Affordances of outsideness for developing expertise
   Elements of developing expertise (Sternberg, 1999)   Affordance of outsideness in online collaborative learning
   Metacognitive skills: problem recognition, definition, and representation; strategy formulation; resource allocation; monitoring, and evaluation of problem solving.   Metacognitive prompting through heightened sense of doubt about meaning when communicating with distant peers.
   Learning skills: cognitive learning processes.   Building meaning by seeking and using multiple perspectives, based on a view of expertise as distributed knowledge.
   Thinking skills: critical, creative and practical thinking processes.   Provides a context for progressively higher standards of analysis and evaluation to build ideas, as communication moves from personal narrative to collegial exploration.
   Knowledge: declarative and procedural.   Knowledge situated in a social and cultural sense; available for reinvestment in personal authentic practice.
   Motivation: achievement and competence.   Strategic value - building networks of peers to share stories and ideas, and to make sense of uncertainty.
   Context: features of a specific time and space.   Participants access, interpret and adaptively use perspectives and knowledge located across time and space.

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