Two developments in recent years have converged to dramatically alter most conceptions of the teaching and learning process. First, technology has become increasingly interactive and distributed, such that individual learners have available the means to participate in incredibly complex networks of information, resources, and instruction. As these technological advancements facilitate interaction across classroom, university, and worldwide learning communities in both real-time and delayed formats, various instructional design and implementation problems spring forth. Second, the conventional teacher-centered model wherein knowledge is transmitted from the teacher to the learner is being replaced by social constructivist and learner-centered models of instruction. These new learner-centered models place emphasis on guiding and supporting students as they meaningfully construct their understanding of various cultures and communities.
As a consequence of these developments, teachers need guidelines from educational researchers about integrating collaboration and communication tools into their classrooms. This volume presents research on such collaborative technology as it facilitates, augments, and redefines academic learning environments. The studies illustrate how schools, teachers, and students are discovering, employing, and modifying the numerous new computer conferencing and collaborating writing tasks and tools, and their effects on social interaction and resulting student learning. Documentation is given that will help teachers to make decisions that productively transform learning environments.
Three key objectives underlie this volume:
*to discover some of the electronic collaboration tools and formats currently employed by teachers in schools and universities and to situate these within a five-level taxonomy of computer conferencing and collaborative writing tools and approaches;
*to examine some of the sociocultural learning variables embedded in the use of electronic collaborative tools and approaches; and
*to participate in a dialogue about the importance of student electronic social interaction and dialogue from a sociocultural perspective.
This is a must-read volume for all researchers, scholars, graduate students, and practitioners interested in such fields as sociocultural theory, process writing, cooperative learning, learner-centeredness, distance education, peer conferencing and tutoring, mentoring, electronic collaboration, problem- and project-based learning, collaborative writing, and educational reform.
"Evolving collaborative strategies demand our understanding; this early research provides us with some frameworks for doing just that. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above."
"...this book offers a valuable treatise for those who are interested in finding out more about CMC and CSCL and their uses for promoting new approaches to collaborative learning processes."
—Educational Technology Review
"In summary, Electronic Collaborators is a very valuable contribution to the debate around the 'new educational paradigm' which is claimed for online collaborative learning. Even more, it is itself an excellent example of collaboration between teaching and research within a small group of institutions. It is thus highly relevant to the graduate study arena for which it is intended."
—Computers & Education
"This is an exceptional educational book, for it deals with its subject matter--electronic learner-centeredness--in great depth and detail, and yet remains consistently readable from start to finish. It is a treasure for readers, for it offers a rich and comprehensive resource in respect of four distinct aspects of the use of IT in higher education today, and especially tomorrow....If you have come to see that the most valuable learning nowadays is no longer an isolated and individual activity, but occurs in social interaction with fellow students, authorities, and mentors, you will want to explore the development of socio-cultural theory with these writers, and you will delight in the new perspectives which that will open up for you, whatever your starting point....Buy it; don't expect to read it--completely--for a long time; be prepared to return to it again and again, and constantly to find new thoughts and suggestions which you will value, and put to good use."
—British Journal of Educational Technology
"This volume addresses a research-oriented readership, but will be of interest to educational technologists who want to move design beyond the presentation of material, towards creating contexts for active participation and learning."
—Education, Communication & Information
"The authors collectively argue that the effective use of technology to support learning must be predicated on a soundly designed instructional effort....[they] present a comprehensive theoretical framework for selecting technologies such as e-mail, the Internet, and the World Wide Web (WWW), multimedia, and databases for use in teaching and learning....Theoretical foundations are well documented, and chapters are complete with examples, transcripts, screen-shots, tables of data, and visual models."
—The Journal of Higher Education
"Electronic Collaborators is a welcome addition to any 21st century educator's personal library. Its best quality is its strong pedagogical and research foundation which enables it to withstand the tremors and fissures of rapid technological change.Electronic Collaborators merges theory and practice, weaving the two into a harmonious set of best practices and lessons learned."
"Appropriate and timely....Provides a coherent formulation of the relationship between computer collaboration and social constructivism....This is a strong volume that will add to Erlbaum's impressive list in educational technology."
—Jay David Bolter
Georgia Institute of Technology
"A wonderful new entry to the history of the electronic classroom. It will be useful to educators at every level as they probe the possible....This book's strength is the way in which it addresses a variety of models for electronic collaboration, then has the principals of the projects comment on the pedagogy involved....The variety of settings and objectives offers lots to think about and the effort to ground each model in current pedagogy is excellent....The wealth of pedagogical strands that are brought together is inspiring and serves as a jumping off point for the next generation of learner-centered technology."
The City University of New York