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Abstract -- Educational Application of the Internet: International Joint Teleclass Education Track
D7: New Applications of Networking Technology for Education

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Educational Application of the Internet: International Joint Teleclass

Aoki, Kumiko ( kaoki@uhunix.uhcc.hawaii.edu)
Goto, Kunio ( goto@nanzan-u.ac.jp)

Abstract

As the Internet connects universities and colleges all over the world, its educational applications have been discussed among educators and researchers in higher education. One of the most discussed educational applications of computer networks is collaborative writing. Computer-mediated collaborative writing is different from mere co-authoring or group activities in the physically confined classroom. The underlying philosophy of collaborative writing is the constructionist view of knowledge; viewing writing as social action and learning as a cooperative, social enterprise. Computer-mediated communication such as electronic mail and computer conferencing has been considered to facilitate such social construction of knowledge among students. One of the advantages of collaborative writing through the Internet is its distance irrelevance. With the Internet people can overcome the barriers of time and space in communicating with others. But, how about cultural barriers? The Internet has a great potential to be utilized for mutual understandings among people in different countries to share their experiences and knowledge and collaborate on a project. However, little is known about how the Internet can be best utilized for such purposes.

Based on the above questions in mind, a joint class between the Department of Communication, University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Department of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences and the English Department, Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, was designed and carried out from September 27, 1994, to December 9, 1994. This paper is to report the outcome and findings from the joint class.

In the joint class, students at both sites formed groups of four consisting of two students in Hawaii and two students in Japan, and wrote a research paper on the topic the group selected. There were two sessions during the entire course; each session lasted five weeks to complete one collaborative research paper. The study examines the effects of such variables as the individual typing skill, the English composition skill, cultural orientation, and videoconferences, on communication frequency among group members and the perceived group cohesiveness and effectiveness of the group process as well as the quality of the final paper produced by the group.

(The final papers submitted from the students, some of the course materials, and the class information are available from the following URL;
gopher://gopher.nanzan-u.ac.jp:70/11/Hawaii-Nanzan-Joint-Class. http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/goto-classes/UHNZU/index.html)

The paper explains the Internet tools used in the joint class. It also identifies and discusses issues in the international computer- mediated collaborative writing and offers some suggestions to alleviate problems.

This joint class was truly a collaborative project in a sense that the two authors in two different countries from two different academic disciplines met on the Internet and worked together for over ten months to plan, design, implement, and carry out the project exchanging more than 700 messages. Although not everything has gone as it is expected, with the feedback from student participants some suggestions and recommendations are to be made for further improvement of this kind of projects.