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Innovations for Online Collaborative Learning in Mathematics

Innovations for Online Collaborative Learning in Mathematics
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Author(s): Rodney Nason (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Earl Woodruff (OISE - University of Toronto, Canada)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch323

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Abstract

The field of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) has been growing in a number of areas and across a number of subjects (Koschmann, 1996; Koschmann, Hall, & Miyake, 2002; Wasson, Baggetun, Hoppe, & Ludvigsen, 2003). One of the most promising pedagogical advances, however, for online collaborative learning that has emerged in recent years is Scardamalia and Bereiter’s (1996) notion of knowledge-building communities. Unfortunately, establishing and maintaining knowledge-building communities in CSCL environments such as Knowledge Forum® in the domain of mathematics has been found to be a rather intractable problem (Bereiter, 2002b; Nason, Brett, & Woodruff, 1996). In this chapter, we begin by identifying two major reasons why computer-supported knowledge-building communities in mathematics have been difficult to establish and maintain. 1. The inability of most “textbook” math problems to elicit ongoing discourse and other knowledge-building activity 2. Limitations inherent in most CSCL environments’ math representational tools Therefore, in this chapter, we argue that if mathematics education is to exploit the potentially powerful new ways of learning mathematics being provided by online knowledgebuilding communities, then the following innovations need to be designed and integrated into CSCL environments: 1. authentic mathematical problems that involve students in the production of mathematical models that can be discussed, critiqued, and improved, and 2. comprehension-modeling tools that (a) enable students to adequately represent mathematical problems and to translate within and across representation modes during problem solving, and (b) facilitate online student- student and teacher-student hypermedia-mediated discourse.

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