Technology and collaborative learning

I’m in the process of collecting recent articles on technology and how it can be used collaboratively for learning, specifically seeking out meta analysis articles and articles on blogs in education.  I came across a nice meta analysis today from Resta and Laferriere (2007) titled “Technology in Support of Collaborative Learning“.

Throughout the article, the authors touch on research in this area over the last 20 years, interjecting recommendations for future research.  One of the recomendations that stands out:

“Future computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) studies should focus less attention on the question of whether CSCL is better than face-to-face collaborative learning, but rather focus on what is uniquely feasible with new technology…and the different ecologies and affordances of CSCL environments and tools that are diverging further and further from face-to-face learning environments.”

I agree with this assessment, especially coming off a dissertation that compared two different technology environments and trying to identify which one is ‘better’ for certain tasks.  I wonder if I should have spent less time comparing, and more time examining ‘unique feasibility’ of each platform in specific contexts.  The second part of the quote about different ecologies and affordances also rings true.  Many of the collaborative tools used today like Facebook, Flickr and Youtube, have immense potential for learning, but each one has a very specific ecology that makes it unique for specific contexts.  As these technologies mature alongside the LMC/CMS environments we are now using, will the gap between the two grow wider or smaller?

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