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H809 – Comparing your answers with your tutor group (A2.1)

February 19, 2011

Well, I am running a little bit late on that activity, but better late than never 😉

Research question(s) Comparing the answers given in forum A1.4 it seems that we all are in agreement about the research question(s), although some used the original question from Hiltz and Meinke and some of us rephrased the questions.

Settings – Two colleges – Higher Education – agreement on that

Concepts: Collaborative learning is the main concept we all mentioned, but CMC (computer-mediated communication), interaction (Bernard) or participation was mentioned as well as knowledge creation (Louise) and virtual classroom (Simon).

Methods: We all agree that a mixture of quantitative (test scores) and qualitative (pre and post-interviews, participant observations, behavioural data) methods were used.

Findings: Here we depart a little bit with some of us reporting from the positive impact that the VC according to Hiltz and Meinke supposed to have, but some of us also mention that there is not enough evidence to back up these findings. For example no significant difference in test scores are found. Some also report that academically more mature students, in higher levels achieve better results and that participation (well the willingness to engage) seems a major factor for success.

Limitations: Personally I saw one major limitation in the self-reported questionnaires a point that was picked up by some of you who suggested that the wording of the questions may have influenced the participants towards a more positive response in favour of VC. Sampling was also mentioned, the small number and that the cases and controls were not comparable in all respects. Derek also mentioned that the two colleagues and access or ownership of computer equipment were not really comparable. Derek also criticized the use of the Likert scales. I also mentioned that cross-sectional studies can only provide a snapshot. It analyse the relationship between different variables at a point of time, but to show a more general pattern a longitudinal study would be needed.

Ethics: Well, I did not find any ethical issues, but some mentioned the differences in access to Internet and personal computers and the clear technical advantage of students from the NJIT college which were a lot more well prepared as students from Upsala art college, as an ethical issue.

Well, I am not sure if this would count as limitation or as ethical issue?! How do other see that point? No agreement is reached so far at the time of writing.

Implications: The study definitely opened up discussion for this new form of learning, for the benefits of CMC and for finding ways of encouraging students to participate to a greater extend, although it seems this questions is still not answered 😉

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