Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New collaborative tools for online learning

Online courses have opened up educational opportunities on a massive scale and the scope for further innovation is enormous. Thanks to the work done by an EU-funded project, students can now collaborate with their fellow learners and access relevant information while outside the classroom.
New collaborative tools for online learning
Student collaborations and the exchange of ideas are paramount for optimising educational achievement. Communication and collaboration support the learner's development to acquire skills for learning without assistance. The 'Collaboration awareness tool for CSCL users' (EURO-CAT-CSCL) project aimed to fill the social benefits gap that occurs when learning outside the classroom.

The joint research project has worked to create the computer awareness tool (CAT) to support computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Adding groupware and main learning management systems (LMSs), the objective was to enhance the effectiveness and teaching quality during distance learning.

To achieve this, the CAT retrieves situational context information from learning team partners for the online student. End users are secondary, higher and adult learners or private workers using collaborative computer-supported tools. These include groupwares, LMSs and peer-to-peer educational systems.

EURO-CAT-CSCL work focused on collaboration awareness. Factors taken into consideration included group time awareness and regulation, presence and co-presence, individual competency in collaborative context that increases work planning and task regulation. Also important are efficiency, communication, anticipation and group coordination.

The first part of the project research was dedicated to preparatory team building. Each member of the interdisciplinary consortium worked in their specific area and the results were shared during an online meeting. As a result, the knowledge platform has been created to achieve project objectives.

Based on an end-user development methodology, the CAT prototype has become a reality. The so-called EuroCAT tool has now been tested by more than 900 students in 6 European countries and in Latin American centres also.

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