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Volume 11 / Issue 3

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-011-03-0378


Small Groups Learning Synchronously Online at the Workplace: The Interaction of Factors Determining Outcome and Acceptance

Stefan Münzer (Saarland University, Germany)

Bo Xiao (Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Publication and Information Systems, Germany)

Abstract: E-learning at the workplace might be accomplished by synchronous cooperative learning sessions of small groups using net-based communication. This form of learning is suitable both for course-based e-learning as well as for knowledge transfer within the company. The small groups learn self-regulated, i.e. without the guidance of an instructor. However, the learning tasks are pre-defined and a specific learning process is precisely described. In the present study, the goal of the cooperative learning sessions is to deepen pre-existing declarative knowledge. During cooperative learning, group members are required to actively use, acquire, enrich and exchange their knowledge. In a field study carried out in a large software company, a software tool was used which supported the specific process by phase-specific delivering of instructions and learning materials as well as by means of process control (including turn-taking, role assignment, and coordination of task flow). The results of the empirical evaluation demonstrate a high amount of topic-oriented contributions and the realization of the expected learning activities. However, feedback data indicated a low acceptance of the software tool because of its restrictive process control. It is discussed that there might have been a non-optimal interaction between the factors technology and target group in the study.

Keywords: computer-supported cooperative learning, empirical study, professional training, quality assurance, workplace learning

Categories: H.1.2, H.5.1, H.5.2, H.5.3, J.4