What is collaborative learning and scripting and who can benefit from it?
“My work looks at how collaborative learning and argumentation can be augmented through ‘computer-supported collaboration scripts’. Scripts encourage dialogue and argument between students working on a task collaboratively. They aim to facilitate learners to actively participate in collaborative learning processes and to learn at a deep cognitive level.
Learning is supposed to be an active process. But students often do not know in what activities to engage in. Scripts provide learners with a guideline of meaningful learning activities.
In traditional classroom settings, students could be regarded as passive collators of what we could frequently consider inert knowledge. Modern approaches to learning often use computers to make students active constructors of knowledge, for instance, by making them solve and discuss complex problems together online. These modern learning environments, however, often demand a lot of students who are not used to construct and compare arguments and to outline their point of view in discussions. Students’ discussion sometimes became superficial. Computer-supported collaboration scripts are like theatre scripts in some ways – they assign roles and activities to the learners. We made them ‘computer-supported’ so students would not additionally have to learn the scripts, but that the roles and activities would be suggested to them while they discuss problem cases in online learning environments."
What has your research found?
"Our research analysed specific qualities of online discussions that students have. The team worked with over 1000 students within Germany, starting at the University of Munich.
We found that scripts could enable learners to relate to each other. It helped them to be critical about what learning partners were saying. This did not seem to happen with online discussion boards – students may have read comments from other students, but did not seem bothered to act on this (in fact, researchers at KMRC are addressing this important issue too."
What has working with Kaleidoscope brought the team?
“Working with the Kaleidoscope European Research Team has enabled us to understand different perspectives – to take the research to levels that could not have been achieved without the collaboration afforded through Kaleidoscope.
The outcomes of this research could be incorporated into mainstream teaching and learning within Germany and across Europe. We just need to communicate how. We need the funding to continue. It would be great to bring other countries perspectives into this in the future. We must learn how to create opportunities so that this research can benefit education – both economically, socially and politically.”
What for the future?
“We hope to formalise scripts to transfer to environments with different technologies –such as online learning communities, mobile learning, computer based learning, learning in online discussions and learning in classrooms with or without computer support. Taking scripting into different classrooms – teachers, students in groups etc. across education."
What should policy makers know about your research and why it is important?
"Lots of financial aid has gone into bringing schools and classrooms online. But there is little knowledge what to do there. Our scripts make suggestions based on theoretical approaches of educational psychology on how to make use of online learning environments in a way that exceeds the traditional classroom."
Put simply, what are computer-supported scripts?
"Learning is supposed to be an active process. But students often do not know what activities to engage in. Computer-supported scripts provide learners with a guideline of meaningful learning activities."
What has Kaleidoscope contributed to you and your research?
"We have built an international team within Kaleidoscope that brings together various competencies that are required to continue our line of research, namely educational, psychological and technical competencies. We want to spread the idea of scripting across nations and are currently planning a cross-cultural study with scripts – something that would have hardly been feasible without Kaleidoscope. Personally, Kaleidoscope has brought me together with a lot of fellow European researchers interested in similar aspects of computer-supported collaborative learning. I would not even have known that there are that many distributed across Europe without Kaleidoscope."
What should happen after Kaleidoscope?
"Kaleidoscope should remain as a network within the field in Europe, but maybe also connected to international organisations like the International Society of Learning Sciences (ISLS). Maybe as such it could represent a European subgroup of TEL or CSCL and collect European research in form of a Digest of TEL."