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Streng, Sara (2012): The role of personal and shared displays in scripted collaborative learning. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

Over the last decades collaborative learning has gained immensely in importance and popularity due to its high potential. Unfortunately, learners rarely engage in effective learning activities unless they are provided with instructional support. In order to maximize learning outcomes it is therefore advisable to structure collaborative learning sessions. One way of doing this is using collaboration scripts, which define a sequence of activities to be carried out by the learners. The field of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) produced a variety of collaboration scripts that proved to have positive effects on learning outcomes. These scripts provide detailed descriptions of successful learning scenarios and are therefore used as foundation for this thesis. In many cases computers are used to support collaborative learning. Traditional personal computers are often chosen for this purpose. However, during the last decades new technologies have emerged, which seem to be better suited for co-located collaboration than personal computers. Large interactive displays, for example, allow a number of people to work simultaneously on the same surface while being highly aware of the co-learners' actions. There are also multi-display environments that provide several workspaces, some of which may be shared, others may be personal. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the influence of different display types on group processes. For instance, it remains unclear in which cases shareable user interfaces should replace traditional single-user devices and when both personal and shared workspaces should be provided. This dissertation therefore explores the role of personal and shared workspaces in various situations in the area of collaborative learning. The research questions include the choice of technological devices, the seating arrangement as well as how user interfaces can be designed to guide learners. To investigate these questions a two-fold approach was chosen. First, a framework was developed, which supports the implementation of scripted collaborative learning applications. Second, different prototypes were implemented to explore the research questions. Each prototype is based on at least one collaboration script. The result is a set of studies, which contribute to answering the above-mentioned research questions. With regard to the choice of display environment the studies showed several reasons for integrating personal devices such as laptops. Pure tabletop applications with around-the-table seating arrangements whose benefits for collaboration are widely discussed in the relevant literature revealed severe drawbacks for text-based learning activities. The combination of laptops and an interactive wall display, on the other hand, turned out to be a suitable display environment for collaborative learning in several cases. In addition, the thesis presents several ways of designing the user interface in a way that guides learners through collaboration scripts.