Synchronizing Asynchronous Collaborative Learners
Springer London, Dordrecht Amsterdam
This paper addresses the issue of different levels of progress in asynchronous collaborative learning activities. The context for this research is organizations of distributed and mobile practitioners. When introducing collaborative learning parallel to daily work tasks we cannot assume that all participants have the same possibility to actively engage. Therefore the learners can be at different levels of progress in the collaborative learning activity. To facilitate collaborative activity the progress of the participants has to be synchronized in some way. The main problem addressed in this paper is the difficulty for participants to keep a common progress, to enable discussions, in asynchronous collaborative learning. To address this problem three methods for synchronization (synchronization points) are suggested: locked scenes, written instruction and collaborative production. The three methods were implemented and evaluated in an organization using a Net-scenario, the Net-scenario as a system and a methodology based on role-playing to initiate collaborative learning. This system was suitable to use in the evaluation since it can be used asynchronously as well as synchronously, supports distributed participants and is dependent on collaborative discussion concerning the content presented.