Nowadays, computer network-based learning is widely use all over the world
because of its potential and flexibility. All educational institutions
over the world use computer network-based learning for expanding learning
opportunities and facilitating learning activities to students separated
by time and distance as well as. It can be effective for delivering content
to students and for instructors interacting with each other in a face-to-face
classroom by using communication tool such as email, bulletin boards,
conferencing system, whiteboards, chat rooms and videoconferencing and
it can delivery contents in multimedia format like a video on demand,
audio clips, animations, simulations and movies. Also, computer network-based
learning can support for all educational levels and can use for formal
and non-formal education. While computer network-based learning is the
integration between computers, network computer and communication tools,
technology alone can not makes an effective learning process and ensure
learning quality. So learning activities are the important factor that
all educators must integrate with technology and Collaborative Learning
is the one method that’s appropriate and supports computer network-based
learning activity with effective learning.
Collaborative learning is an approach to teaching and learning in which
students are required to work together in the learning process, and to
reach a consensus through negotiation to accomplish group tasks, McAlpine
(2000). Some important attributes include learner center, constructivist,
and problems-solving activities that the students explore in order to
create their own knowledge, meaning and solutions. The importance of collaborative
learning as an instructional method has led to its application in situations
in which computer network based is required by using computer network
technologies for effective communication in learning activities, Hannafin
and Land (1997).
However, differences in student learning styles are one of the major problems
that affect all students since not everyone prefers to use the same style
of activity for effective learning. With that in mind, the best method
is to use specific activities designed for each student learning styles
but this is difficult to do because there are a wide variety of student
characteristics in virtual classroom. So, the best solution for this problem
is to design a learning model which supports the learning methods of all
students so that all students can learn satisfactorily, happily, and get
high achievement. Collaborative computer network-based learning model
for undergraduate students with different learning styles was developed
for solve this problem.
Collaborative learning, cooperative learning and small group learning
are terms that are often used interchangeably in the literature. However,
it is important to differentiate collaborative learning from the other
two. Collaborative learning differs from cooperative learning in that
its emphasis lies in mutual engagement of learners in the learning process
rather than on the sole division of labor to reach a common group goal,
Bernard, Rubalcava and St-Pierre(2000). In cooperative learning, the result
may simply add up to collection or incorporation of each individual’s
work into the final products based on collaboration should represent a
synthesis of the whole. Some of the main advantages of collaborative learning
that are often cited are that it encourages active and constructive learning
and encourages deep processing of information, as well as evoking critical
thinking, reasoning and goal-based learning, Brown and Parlinscar (1989).
In addition, collaborative learning requires less teacher role than cooperative
learning and includes sharing the learning task, combining expertise,
building or consolidating a learning community, Slavin (1995).
In collaborative learning setting, the emphasis is placed on the interactions
as common understandings are negotiated and developed across differences
of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Indeed, collaborative learning should
thrive on these differences. Motivation to participate and confidence,
together, play an equally important role if benefits are to emerge from
the experience. Moreover, participants need to assume a variety of functional
roles as interchanges progress and involve question answering and explanations
that are open to challenges and justifications, Bernard, Rubalcava and
St-Pierre (2000). So collaborative learning is the appropriated learning
pattern for learning activity in modern age that needs students enhance
knowledge, experiences and potentials for conducting their real life.
Computer Network-Based Learning
Collaborative Computer Network-Based Learning is the computer-based variant
of the classroom version and is coming to be regarded as one of the promising
pedagogical approaches for distance education and its an integral component
of higher education in the new millennium, Harasim (1996), Riel (1990).
In addition, it will better prepare students for the requirements of today’s
global industries where workers and consultants, and the effective use
of collaborative computer network-based learning, will aid in acquisition
of complex and higher-level concept and skills that has been claimed as
a weakness of distance education, Abrami and Bure (1996).
In order for Collaborative Computer Network-Based Learning to take place
successfully, it is crucial that the learner feels part of a learning
community where his/her contributions add to a common knowledge pool and
where a community spirit is fostered through social interactions, Palloff
and Pratt (1999). There are two methods for using collaborative network
based learning, first one is group project method that supports students
to do a project together by using group opinion in selecting topic and
working with teamwork for learning goal. The second one is a debate or
discussion method that supports students sharing and exchanging of individual
ideas with group members for eventually concluding the group’s final
opinion for problem solving or justification.
The activities of collaborative computer network-based learning use abilities
and potentials of computer and network for communicating among students
and facilitators for learning activities. The communication of computer
networks can support student-to-student and students-to-facilitator by
using communication tools such as e-mail, chat rooms, web boards, instant
messaging, and desktop conferencing. When its integrated with the appropriate
activities of collaborative learning, the result is a highly effective
learning activity on computer network.
Learning styles are important factors in designing instruction and it
is a variable that can affect learners’ achievement. So the instructional
designers should know learning styles principles and theories for designing
the appropriate web’s environments for all students in a virtual
classroom. The nature of the web tends toward graphical and textual, thus
catering particularly to those with visual learning preferences. Those
with either auditory or kinesthetic learning preferences frequently find
themselves at a great disadvantage in the web-based learning environment.
This is particularly true for the hundreds of courses that exist today
containing only lecture notes and little interaction or mentoring, Lynch
Kolb’s (1986) popular learning style inventory, which is often used
in distance learning research, measured student preferences in two bi-polar
dimensions. Kolb suggested that over time learners develop either a preference
for concrete experiences or preference for engaging in abstract analyses
when acquiring skills and knowledge. Students also may emphasize interest
in turning theory into practice by active experimentation, or they may
prefer to think about their experiences by reflective observation. Dille
and Mezact (1991) used Kolb’s inventory to identify student success
in Web-based learning. They found that students who preferred abstract
analyses did much better than those with higher scores in concrete experience.
Terrell and Dringus (1999-2000) found that Kolb’s convergence and
assimilator categories were predictive of greater success in their graduate
In this research, Kolb’s learning style inventory is used for grouping
learners because Kolb’s learning style categorizes type of learners
based upon learning experiences; number of group is not variety and there
are no group effects with collaborative learning activities.
There were three stages for conducting this research: 1) study the patterns
of collaborative computer network-based learning; 2) development of collaborative
computer network-based learning model and implementation; 3) evaluate
and adjust model. This particular document presents only the first and
some part of the second stage because this project is being conducted.
The first stage has two parts in collecting data. The first one is sorting
interview data from the experts into three groups: 1) Networking administrator
or related; 2) Facilitator or related; and, 3) Instructor who has experiences
in computer network-based learning. The second one is to study collaborative
computer network-based learning model from research and collaborative
learning website and integrate data from the two parts for developing
a new appropriate model.
The population are networking administrators, facilitators and teaching
expertise who has experiences in computer network-based learning from
government and private universities in Thailand’s universities those
have computer network-base learning system and being develop and were
selected to sample with purposive random sampling by selecting from people
who has experiences in computer network-based learning at least one yea.
In Thailand, there are 43 universities. 20 universities have computer
network-based learning systems. Six universities have complete computer
network-based learning system. 14 universities are developing computer
network-based learning systems. From these there are six facilitators,
20 networking administrators, and two teaching expertise who has experiences
in computer network-based learning. The sample was interviewed by face-to-face
and telephone interviews with a structure interviewing form containing
seven issues: 1) Content, 2) Learning Management System, 3) Facilitators,
4) Learners, 5) Mode of communications, 6) Assessment, and 7) Infrastructure.
The scope of questions is the opinions about all components that should
be set up for computer network-based learning in a Thai context.
Data from the interviewing form were analyzed with content analysis and
then grouped by the categories of interviewing issues. Summarization of
major themes from all the data is shown in table 1.
Table 1 Interviewing Data
Table 1 shows interviewing
data that was analyzed for integrating into the prototype model sorted
into seven issues: 1) Content, 2) Learning Management System, 3) Facilitator,
4) Learner, 5) Mode of communication, 6) Assessment, and 7) Infrastructure.
The opinions of facilitators, networking admini-strators, and teaching
experts are shown according to the main idea and have little difference
in each details. The facilitators and teaching experts are always focused
on pedagogy and networking administrators are always focused on physical
environment and technology. The differences of data show the dimensions
and perspectives in each component that can apply information for synthesis
an effective prototype model.
from collaborative network-based pattern study
This study of collaborative network-based patterns examined information
from documents, research and collaborative learning websites in order
to collect data about web patterns and methods, components, environments,
and strategies in collaborative learning settings in order to analyze
all factors and synthesize a new model. From the data analysis were found
appropriate factors used to synthesize a prototype model. A collaborative
web-based patterns were developed from Price (1996), Collis (1996), Lightspan
(2000); collaborative learning process were developed from Puntambekar
(1999) and Bernard, Rubalcava and St-Pierre (2000); and, collaborative
learning strategies were developed from Soller, Goodman, Linton and Gaimani
(1994). The last component is Kolb’s learning styles for supporting
activities which was developed from Anderson and Adams (1992). From all
related factors, we can group the necessary component for developing collaborative
computer network-based learning model within four main components. They
are: facilitator, learner, content, and activities for supporting collaborative
Model synthesis is integrated data from an interview as a part of model
for an appropriate collaborative computer network-based learning model
for Thai learners in higher education with the four main components (see
of prototype model
|Preparing for facilitator
1.Give knowledge in collaborative learning and computer network-based
2.Give knowledge, skill and management of collaborative learning.
3.Give knowledge and skill in computer, software and network application
related with learning activities.
4.Build a confidence for conducting learning activities.
|Preparing for learner
1.Give collaborative learning skills.
-Interpersonal skills, such as request, inform, motivate, maintenance,
-Conflict solving skills.
2. Give knowledge and skill in computer, software and network application
related with learning activities.
|Appropriation of content
1.Content should be variety.
2.Content should not deep.
3.Content relates with learner’s life or real situation.
4.Content is a part of learner’s experiences.
|Step of collaborative learning
Collaborative learning strategies
2.Maintaining social grounding
3.Evaluating student performance
4.Promote group processing
5.Supporting collaborative learning conversation skill practice
6.Applying appropriate technology
Kolb’s learning style supporting
1.Reflective and active learning activities.
2.Concrete and abstract learning activities.
The collaborative computer network-based learning model was developed
from two types of data sources. The first one is data from interviews
that shows data relating all components of computer network-based learning
in a Thai context; and the second one is data from documents, research
and collaborative learning website. The result is a collaborative network-based
learning model comprised of four main components.
The first of the four components is Facilitators. In collaborative learning,
instructor roles were changed to facilitator roles that had different
missions. So there is a necessity to prepare concepts, knowledge, and
skills used in collaborative learning and computer applications for facilitators
to build a confidence in learning activity operations. The success of
collaborative learning depends on facilitators. Hence, facilitator preparation
is the main component in this model and a short-course of training is
an appropriate method for facilitator preparation.
The second component is Learners. This component is very important because
learners are the human resources that we want to develop. The environment
of collaborative network-based learning is different from traditional
classroom, so preparation in the knowledge and skills of collaborative
learning activities is necessary mission that must be considered. The
major factors for learners are: how to learn, computer application about
hardware and software, Internet applications, and collaborative learning
skills. The university has responsibility for preparing learners for all
these factors. However, while some learners may have computer literacy
skills, these skill vary widely so a training course for learners should
be used to address the variety of skills according to learners’
The third component is Content. Although all content can delivered with
computer network-based learning, collaborative learning has a specific
characteristic because the learning activities is group process and use
communication to share, exchange, discuss, argue, solve problem and build
knowledge based upon learners’ experiences. So appropriate content
should provide variety, not complexity, related with their life. The more
learner experiences are integrated, the more benefit, better learning,
and effective learning will result.
The fourth component is Activities for Supporting Collaborative Learning.
This component has three parts. The first one is the step of collaborative
learning. This is composed of personal learning and collaborative learning.
It is necessary to use two types of learning together. Personal learning
helps learners to reflect upon knowledge and experiences of their own
before joining in groups for collaborative learning. If learners do not
have enough knowledge and experience, the facilitator must equalize knowledge
at the same level for all learners, so that all learners can do effective
learning activities in group or collaborative learning settings. The second
one is collaborative learning strategies that are composed of encouraging
participants, maintaining social grounding, evaluating students’
performances, promoting group processing, supporting collaborative learning
conversation skill practice, and applying appropriate technologies. All
strategies can support, promote, and motivate learners to participate
in group activities, which is the main factor of collaborative learning.
The last one is Kolb’s learning style supporting activities. These
are composed of two parts of learning activities. They are: 1) reflective
and active learning activities, and 2) concrete and abstract learning
activities. These two parts of learning activities can support four learning
styles learners because each type of learning style has co-characteristics
or appropriate learning method such as Diverger, which is composed of
concrete and reflection; Assimilator, which is composed of reflection
and abstraction; Converger, which is composed of abstract and active;
and, Accommodator, which is composed of active and concrete. The co-characteristics
of Kolb’s learning style are the key factors to set appropriate
learning activities for all Table 4).
Table 3. Activity
1: Reflection and Active
Table 4. Activity 2: Abstract and Concrete
( * Co – characteristic)
The collaborative computer network-based learning model that is described
in this paper is in the first and some part of the second stage of research
and development for presentation of an appropriate collaborative network-based
learning model for different learning style learners. This model was developed
by considering on learners, facilitators, content and design activities
for supporting collaborative learning in a Thai context and integrated
with web-based development by adapting from Price (1996), Collis (1996),
Lightspan (2000) for pattern, collaborative learning processes from Puntambekar
(1999) and Bernard, Rubalcava and St-Pierre(2000), for collaborative learning
strategies from Soller, Goodman, Linton and Gaimani (1994). The last component
is Kolb’s learning style supporting activities from Anderson and
The components that were selected for use in this prototype model were
approved and recommended by researchers and developers to ensure effective
components and appropriate items for learning activity, especially for
collaborative learning and computer network-based learning activities.
This prototype model will be tested with undergraduate students and evaluate
in October,2003 at Kasetsart University. The prototype model is believed
to be suitable and well matched for Thai learners in higher education
Abrami, P.C. and Bure, E.M.(1996) Computer-support collaborative learning
and distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, vol.10,
no.2, pp. 37-42.
McAlpine, I.(2000). Collaborative Learning Online. Journal of Distance
Education, vol.21 no.1, pp.66-80.
Bernard, R.M., Rubacava, B.R. and St-Pierre, D.(2000). Collaborative online
distance learning: Issues for future practice and research. Distance Education,
vol.21 no. 2, pp.260-77
Brown, A.L. and Palincsar, A.S.(1989). Guided, Cooperative Learning and
Individual Knowledge Acquisition. www.smith.edu/educ/people/al_r/554syl.htm
Collis, B.(1996) Online Distance Learning.
Dille, B. and Mezack, M.(1991).Identified predictors of high risk among
community college telecourse student. American Journal of Distance Education,
Hanafin, M.J. and Land, S.M.(1997). The Foundation and Assumptions of
Technology-Enhanced Student- Centered Learning Environments. Instructional
Science, no.25, pp. 167-202.
Harasim, L. (1996). Effectively Using Electronic Conferencing
Kolb, D.(1986). Learning Style Inventory: Technical and Manual. Revised
Edition. Boston MA: McBer.
Lightspan.(2000). CyberFair Instruction.
Lynch, M.(2002). The Online Educator: A guide to creating the virtual
classroom. Routledge Falmer, London.
Palloff, R.M. and Pratt, K.(1999). Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace:
Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom, Jossey Bass, Sanfrancisco.
Price, R.V. (1996).A Model for the on-line College level:Guide study course.TECHTREND.
Riel, M.(1990). Cooperative learning across classrooms in electronic learning
circles. Instructional Science, no.19, pp.445-466.
Slavin, R.E.(1995). Cooperative Learning. Second Edition. Allyn and Bacon.
Soller, A., Goodman, B., Linton, F. and Gaimani, R.(1994). Promoting Effective
Peer Interaction in an Intelligent Collaborative Learning System. In Proceedings
of the 4th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems(ITS98).
San Antonio, TX, 186-195.
Torrell, S. and Dringus, L.(1999). An investigation of the effect of learning
style on student success in an online learning environment. Journal of
Educational Technology Systems. 28(3)231-238.