ICCAI 95 article
Facing this complexity, the distance tutor cannot set up conditions which guarantee efficient collaborative learning. He should rather stop investigating collaborative learning at a general level and refer to more precise interaction processes which may or may not occur during collaboration. Hence our conclusion is that the only way to achieve partial control of learning effects is monitoring closely the interactions and check whether they offer a potential for at least some of the mechanisms that we have presented.
We would like to emphasize a second idea which underlies the work presented here. Under the label 'collaborative learning', most research actually focuses 'learning through collaborative problem solving'. Most of the mechanisms we presented may only occur if two or more individuals are engaged into some activity which forces them to maintain some agreement and to reach eventually a shared solution. These results do not concern experiments in which subjects would roughly be left free to talk about whatever they want. Current discussions of Internet-based tools focus often on people sending messages, but neglect the reason why they communicate. Even if individuals have such reasons, the effects we reported in this paper only concern goal-directed collaboration. In such settings, individuals are somewhat 'glued' into a single shared cognitive system by the fact that they are engaged into a convergent attempt to solve a problem. Therefore, more effort has to be spent on integrating collaboration features found in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) tools into communication and information software available for "masses" on the Internet.
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