Title

Supporting collaborative learning in online environments: The promise of wiki technology

Date of Completion

January 2009

Keywords

Education, Educational Psychology|Web Studies|Education, Technology of|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Promoting collaborative learning (CL) in online educational settings is becoming an important and growing need. Compared to threaded discussion tools—currently the predominant means of online discussion and collaboration—wikis may provide opportunities for the implementation of more effective CL environments. Yet more empirical research is needed to support this argument. ^ This study explored differences in the level of collaboration and kinds of CL interactions evident in wiki and threaded discussion environments, as students worked in groups to analyze a case and produce an artifact. Activity Theory (Engestrom & Miettinen, 1999a, 1999b), which contextualizes human activity within an interdependent activity system, served as the theoretical lens for understanding student CL interactions and technology use. This study was conducted with 34 graduate students, enrolled in two sections of an online learning theories course. Hybrid methodologies were employed mixing qualitative, quantitative, and illustrative techniques during data analysis. ^ Overall, findings from this study favored the use a wiki for collaborative case analysis, over the use of a threaded discussion. The research contributes to our understanding of the effective design of online learning, computer-supported collaborative learning, and educational uses of Web 2.0 technologies. Implications for future research in online education are discussed. ^