Friday, February 26, 2010


Title: Collaborative Learning Skills Used in Weblog
ISSN 1442-438X
CALL-EJ Online
Vol. 11, No. 2, February 2010
Retrieved on Tuesday, 16th February 2010, 1045pm

1. Pramela Krish : a lecturer with the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
2. Anuratha Kanniah : a lecturer teaching English as foreign language to international students at University College of Innovation and Technology, Malaysia.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

I. Summary of the Article

The aim of this study was to find out the learners’ collaborative learning skills and sub skills that enhance interaction in the CSCL context. Basically, collaborative learning is the combination of two or more learners working together in a learning environment. Roberts (2004) has defined collaborative learning as the interdependence of the individuals as they share ideas and reach a conclusion or product. Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is an educational learning setting that applies the idea of group- based learning with the communication technology to support learning. It allows learners to work in a group independently as in the sense that they are both the recipient and the sender of knowledge. The data gathering and analysis were guided by qualitative theory techniques. The researcher listened to the participants and constructs a picture based on their ideas. (Creswell, 1994) There were fundamentally two research questions addressed in this study. The first research questions was basically to identify the preferred collaborative learning skills and subskills by calculating the frequency of the number of attributes representing the skills and subskills in each weblog posting. Then, the second research question seeks to understand the process that takes place in a real academic setting. The nature of this study is to investigate deep understanding of group actions and interactions that involves an evitable interpretation of meanings based on the theoretical perspectives. All the respondents possess a basic degree. A total of 11 postgraduate are students pursuing Masters Degree (from literature based course) participated in this research. The participants were given a literary text (The White Heron, a short story) to analyze via a weblog. All the students in the course who participated in the weblog are taken as the sample for the research. There were 5 procedures stages conducted in this study; Stage 1: collecting data from the weblog, Stage 2: data reduction stage, Stage 3: coding phase, Stage 4: compressing the data collected, and Stage 5: making logical assumptions by correlating the contents (data).
The findings of this study were analyzed in two sections. The first section identifies on the skills and subskills used by the participants based on the Collaborative Learning Skills Taxonomy. There were 3 main skills identified; the active learning, conversation and creative conflict; by which the active learning skill represents 59.82% of the overall interaction as compared to the others. There were 3 subskills each identified under the skills in the CSCL Taxonomy. The active learning conforms to the subskills of informing, requesting and motivating, conversation- acknowledgement, task and maintenance, while creative conflict revolves around arguing and mediating skills. The participants demonstrated high preferences in providing information as they actively exchange ideas with each other and fewer requests to their peers as the form of request made in interaction is unlike the typical way of students requesting information. For the motivate subskill, there were only two students used this attribute out of 39 attributes, while the maintenance subskill which functions to request confirmation in order to validate information constitutes only 12 attributes. Furthermore, the findings also shown that the creative conflict skill that encompasses Mediate and Argue subskills delineates no attributes for Mediate subskill and 64 attributes for Argue subskill.

II. Personal Reactions to the Study

Honestly, this study is interesting. It attracted me to sit and read more about it because the term CSCL itself is something that I have been doing so far in this course. Piaget (1977) explained that individual thought is a necessary condition in the creation of constructive learning. What a person thinks over the same matter can be deliberated and brought in to be discussed with other and this is where the magical of sharing and extending the knowledge slips in. The ideas of learners are negotiated and develop virtually through active discussion and conversation.

I believe that this research is well conducted due to the fact that the researchers managed to bring deeper understanding on how the skills and subskills in the Collaborative Learning Conversation placed their impacts among the learners especially in the context of social and cognitive constructions when it is implemented in the weblog.
I believe that the findings are also had been well-presented by the researchers when they are located using both explanation and figures (or structures). For example, the coded circles in explains the interaction patterns among the participants in the subgroup.

Despite that it is a good study of the skills and subskills in the CSCL among the participants, perhaps the researcher could also focus on the effectiveness of weblogs in an online environment with a particular focus on technology students.

These days, students are interacting more via yahoo Messenger, Myspace, Facebook, Skype and other social networks to get across their ideas, share information, discuss over things and others. Blogging is a user- friendly way that it has become one of the medium in which virtual educational setting applies the collaborative learning among the students. However, in the teaching and learning of ESL in the Malaysian context, the implications of CSCL can not really be traced especially among the school students. No doubt that independent collaborative learning exists among the students, but that can only be seen in chunks and not in the whole piece. Only the urban areas or in the boarding schools. Personally, I doubt that students coming from the rural school, (sometimes, only God knows whereJ ) do blogging due to the fact that there is no internet connection even though the schools are equipped with sophisticated gadgets in the lab with the intention to support the learning activity. How can we expect the students to interact and discuss ideas or issues among them virtually if the networks are not provided? But, with the missions of having more SBT (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi ) towards 2012, hopefully the Ministry could provide the internet connection to the schools systematically so that the CSCL could be implemented among the students. I believe that this study could be an eye-opener to the other researchers or policy makers to bring about the CSCL to the school students, not only among the higher learning institutions like university students.
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