Technical Reports

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UBC CS TR-97-19 Summary

Supporting Learners in a Remote Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Environment: The Importance of Task and Communication, February 25, 1998 David Graves

This paper describes novel research in the area of remote Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. A multimedia activity (Builder) was designed to allow a pair of players to build a house together, each working from his or her own computer. Features of the activity include: interactive graphical interface, two- and three-dimensional views, sound feedback, and real-time written and spoken communication. Mathematical concepts, including area, perimeter, volume, and tiling of surfaces, are embedded in the task. A field study with 134 elementary school children was undertaken to assess the learning and collaborative potential of the activity. Specifically, the study addressed how different modes of communication and different task directives affected learning, interpersonal attitudes, and the perceived value and enjoyment of the task. It was found that playing led to academic gains in the target math areas, and that the nature of how the task was specified had a significant impact on the size of the gains. The mode of communication was found to affect attitudes toward the game and toward the player's partner. Gender differences were found in attitude toward the game, perceived collaboration and attitude toward partner.

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