Supporting Virtual Collaborative Learning Using Collaboration Scripts and Content Schemes

Supporting Virtual Collaborative Learning Using Collaboration Scripts and Content Schemes

Birgitta Kopp (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Germany) and Heinz Mandl (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-898-8.ch002
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Collaborative learning is used as a key principle in several approaches for designing virtual learning environments (e.g. CTGV, 2000). This is due to the fact that collaboration seems to foster individual knowledge acquisition (Lou, Abrami, Spence, Poulsen, Chambers, & d‘Apollonia, 1996), improve knowledge application (De Corte, 2003), and increase social competencies. But collaborative learning is not always successful (Salomon & Globerson, 1989). Virtual learning places great and varied demands on collaboration, which means that learners often do not know how to collaborate adequately. In such cases, it is necessary to provide support. This chapter focuses specifically on two structuring methods, namely collaboration scripts and content schemes. To gain further insight into the topic, the authors will first describe the technical aspects of virtual collaborative learning. In the second section, the authors will depict the learning processes and outcomes of collaboration. Thirdly, they will discuss the theory and research on the structuring methods. The chapter ends with conclusions and practical implications.
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Virtual Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is defined as “a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together” (Dillenbourg, 1999, p.2). In virtual collaborative learning, collaborative learning is mediated by the computer. This means that learners only interact with the help of the computer. The main technical differentiation of collaborative learning which is supported by computers concerns synchronicity. This specifically involves learners collaborating synchronously while sitting simultaneously in different places in front of a computer or asynchronously, when learners are collaborating not at different points in time.

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