ERIC Number: ED385226
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994
Communication Resource Use in a Networked Collaborative Design Environment.
Gay, Geri; Lentini, Marc
The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine student use of a prototype networked collaborative design environment to support or augment learning about engineering design. The theoretical framework is based primarily on Vygotsky's social construction of knowledge and the belief that collaboration and communication are critical components in the development of reasoning and learning. The specific goals of the research were to characterize design activities and practices and to examine the use of multiple communication resources to augment activities in a three-way group collaboration. Three groups of students were asked to solve an engineering design problem using a variety of materials, a prototype computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) system, consisting of audio/video conferencing, chat box, draw tool, an interactive multimedia database of engineering information and a multimedia database of electronic textbooks. The groups were given tasks analogous to those of a main contractor and two subcontractors, but specific tasks were left ambiguous to force students to negotiate the boundaries of their tasks. Activities were categorized as: orienting; sub-dividing the problem; establishing roles; information seeking; information sharing; monitoring; negotiating understanding; designing; building; and evaluating. Multiple channels of communication were used by students in three ways: increasing the depth of the discussion; increasing the breadth of the discussion; and overcoming technical difficulty. Conclusions suggest that students need multiple representations of design information to effectively move the design process forward. These multiple channels can encourage both monitoring an active participation and can facilitate clarifications, acknowledgements, information sharing, negotiation, and the transmission of design information. Findings are illustrated in two figures. (Contains 33 references.) (MAS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY. Interactive Multimedia Group.
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 18-22, 1995).