Towards Understanding Collaborative Learning in the Social Media Environment
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‘Social media’, ‘Web 2.0’, ‘collaborative learning’ and user co-creation are just some of the terms that describe changes in the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in business, private life and society. The changing face of ICT has finally brought about the fulfilment of the term ‘Information Society’ and made an important impact on many fields of research, including collaborative learning. The effective use of ICT in support of group collaboration has been researched and discussed. The effectiveness was attributed to systematically organized and facilitated processes. Nevertheless, the results are not always better when group support systems (GSS) are used in comparison to face-to-face work. In contrast to the well-organized GSS-supported learning process, the social media environment is non-structured, rule-free and even chaotic. In this paper, we research the possibilities of eliciting group knowledge in the group-learning process in a social media environment. A total of 24 students assigned into three groups participated in the three-week long study. Their task was to solve a given research topic by solely using an unfamiliar social media environment and to present their findings after three weeks. Students were observed in their natural learning environment (school, home, the Flowr virtual environment), and their attitudes on collaborative work using social media tools were measured with a questionnaire at the end of the study. The results suggest that non-structured social media environment stimulates self-management of the group. Some insights into trust, motivation and conflicts in the collaborative problem solving are discussed.
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