Journal article - Contributions to a Theoretical Framework for CSCL (Stahl, 2002)

Proceedings of CSCL 2002


Looking at computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) in terms of (a) collaborative knowledge building, (b) group and individual perspectives, (c) mediation by artifacts and (d) micro-analysis of conversation provides a rich, multidimensional starting point for conceptualizing and studying a specific variant of CSCL. These four contributions to CSCL are inter-related. The notion of collaborative knowledge building defines a useful paradigm for conceptualizing learning as social practice. The social interactions and knowledge management activities in which shared knowledge is constructed can be analyzed as the result of interweaving group and personal conversational perspectives. In general, collaborative interaction is mediated by artifacts: sometimes only by transitory artifacts like spoken words or gestures, but increasingly by physical or digital artifacts and media. Empirical studies of collaborative knowledge building employing micro-ethnographic analysis of speech, gesture, artifacts and media can make the details of these collaboration interactions visible, highlighting the interplay of perspectives and artifacts in the trans-personal construction of knowledge. A theoretical framework incorporating models of knowledge building, perspectives and artifacts – and grounded in empirical analysis of collaborative interaction – can guide the design of computer-based artifacts and media as support for collaborative learning with appropriate, elaborated and unified conceptualizations.

Keywords Collaborative knowledge building, perspectives, artifacts, conversation analysis, computer support, theory, CSCL