Supporting collaborative discussions on asynchronous time: a technological perspective

Santi Caballé


The aim of this paper is to report on an experience of using an innovative on-line learning tool to support real, collaborative learning through discussion in asynchronous time. While asynchronous interaction gives rise to unique opportunities that support active, collaborative learning, unique problems also arise, such as frustration, caused by waiting for other peoples' reactions and feedback and the consequent loss of motivation, which has a negative impact on learning outcomes. In order to alleviate these problems, we focus the asynchronous discussion process on two crucial aspects: First, we provide an appropriate dialogue structure and conversational types that promote meaningful contributions and achieve more effective interaction. Second, we extract relevant knowledge in order to increase the awareness of learners and tutors and give them feedback on what is happening, as well as to monitor the performance and collaboration of learners. The ultimate goal is to increase the motivation, involvement and feeling of "on-site presence" among the actors participating in the collaboration and to ensure more effective support and assessment of the asynchronous discussion process in order to enhance and improve the on-line asynchronous experience. For the validation of this model, a real virtual learning environment is used to support collaborative activities based on asynchronous discussion.


Collaborative learning tool; asynchronous collaborative discussion

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