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Supporting Social Interaction for Group Dynamics through Social Affordances in CSCL: Group Awareness Widgets

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Supporting Social Interaction for Group Dynamics through Social Affordances in CSCL: Group Awareness Widgets. Karel Kreijns (Department of Informatics) Paul A. Kirschner (Educational Technology Expertise Center) Wim Jochems (Educational Technology Expertise Center)

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Supporting Social Interaction for Group Dynamics through Social Affordances in CSCL: Group Awareness Widgets

Karel Kreijns (Department of Informatics)

Paul A. Kirschner (Educational Technology Expertise Center)

Wim Jochems (Educational Technology Expertise Center)

Hans van Buuren (Department of Psychology)

  • Characterizing CSCL environments
  • Barriers and pitfalls of social interaction
  • Need for sociable CSCL environments
  • Theoretical framework (Social Affordances, Social Presence, and Sociability)
  • Group Awareness Widget
characterizing the cscl environments
Characterizing the CSCL Environments
  • Focus solely on educational functionality, therefore, they are functional CSCL environments
  • Educational functionality is meant to support cognitive processes (grounding, deep learning, construction of knowledge, competence based learning, etc.)
  • Educational functionality (positively) affects learning performance
  • Research report
    • Positive findings
    • Mixed and negative findings
mixed and negative findings
Mixed and Negative Findings
  • Two categories:
    • Failures regarding the learning process itself: Social interaction is impeded. Social interaction is a key in collaborative learning
    • Failures regarding group forming and group dynamics: These processes are also impeded. Group dynamics is important for creating trust, building relationships, sense of community, etc.
  • Usually, social interaction and group dynamics are taken for granted (pitfalls)
ring 1 cscl pedagogy
Ring 1: CSCL Pedagogy
  • There is yet no suitable CSCL pedagogy that exploits the full potential of CSCL environments and accounts for the effects of communication media on learning.
ring 2 cscl communication media 1
Ring 2: CSCL Communication Media-1
  • communication is restricted to verbal communication (No non-verbal cues; No social context information).

Non-verbal cues are expressed by:

    • Vision: “body language”, facial expression, direction of gaze, posture, gestures, eye-contact
    • Audition: voice volume, inflection, soft speaking
    • Tactile: touch
    • Olfaction: smells, body odors

Social context cues by:

    • Geographic: revealing physical location
    • Organizational: revealing position in the hierarchy
    • Situational: topic of communication, norms and conventions
ring 2 cscl communication media 2
Ring 2: CSCL Communication Media-2

Effect 1: Impediment of social interaction

Effect 2: Grounding problems

Effect 3: Problems with coordinating conversations

Effect 4: Hampers impression formation

Effect 5: Hampers group forming and group dynamics

  • Feelings of dislike by the mere use of CSCL environments
  • Uncertainty about message-medium match
  • Uncertainty about messages not being equivocal
  • Uncertainty about the other in the communication
  • May increase communication anxiety
  • Uncertain when to “speak” (turn-taking)
ring 2 cscl communication media 3
Ring 2: CSCL communication media-3
  • Effects 4 & 5 are amplified because episodes of exchanging socio-emotional content is limited in the CSCL environment
    • No facilities for off-task contexts
    • Pre-emption of communication as soon as the task is done
ring 3 cscl environment
Ring 3: CSCL Environment
  • CSCL environments may not be designed using usability principles and therefore difficult to learn or to handle, thereby de-motivating students to use the environment
  • CSCL environments may also not be attractive. Designing CSCL environments should involve aesthetics and emotion in order to increase the user’s experience. Don Norman speaks about “Emotional Design” (book to appear in 2004).
need for sociable cscl environments
Need for Sociable CSCL Environments
  • Our research focuses on the second Ring. Our aim is to encourage social interaction for group dynamics.
  • We identified the need for sociable environments (they should not be functional only) that incorporate a kind of ‘social functionality’
theoretical framework ecological approach to social interaction
Theoretical Framework: Ecological approach to social interaction
  • Centers around the concept of social affordances
  • Social affordances are the “properties of a CSCL environment that act as social-contextual facilitators relevant for the learner’s social interactions”
  • This definition emphasizes the unique relationship between the CSCL environment and the learners with respect to social interaction
properties of social affordances
Properties of (Social) Affordances
  • Perception-Action Coupling
  • Reciprocal relationship between what the CSCL environments offers and the social needs of the learner
goal of social affordances
Goal of Social Affordances
  • Social affordances aim at
    • Increasing the number of impromptu encounters
    • Informal conversations (‘not’ casual conversations)
    • Bridging the gap that exists due to asynchronous communication (history)
  • Implies proximity to be an important dimension
    • Spatial proximity (tele-proximity)
    • Temporal proximity can be bridged using traces (footprints)
  • It is hypothesize that social affordances devices, will facilitate the group forming and group dynamics.
real life example of a social affordances device based on spatial proximity the coffee machine
Real Life Example of a Social Affordances Device based on spatial proximity: The Coffee Machine
constructing social affordances devices in cscl environments 1
Constructing Social Affordances Devices in CSCL Environments-1
  • Based upon tele-proximity through group awareness (i.e. perceiving the others in their activities).
  • Providing group awareness:
    • Through a ‘media space’ : Using a mix of video camera’s, audio equipement, and desktop computers
    • Graphically: Visualizing the awareness information
    • ‘Abstract’: For example by signal processing an audio signal into a video signal (Pederson & Sokoler, 1997)
    • Using sound space: (Gaver, 1990)
constructing social affordances devices in cscl environments 2
Constructing Social Affordances Devices in CSCL Environments-2
  • Provide a set of communication media
  • Tightly integrating this set in the awareness information subsystem warrants the perception-action coupling
  • The composition of the set of communication media is unclear:
    • Think of the effects of using communication media in CSCL environments
    • Walter (1999): Visual cues have little place in CMC
    • Gay & Lentini (1995): Use a ‘sufficient’ set.
group awareness widgets
Group Awareness Widgets
  • Social Affordances Devices in CSCL environments  Group Awareness Widgets (GAWs)
  • GAWs:
    • Provide group awareness graphically
    • Provide history awareness graphically
    • Provide a standard set of communication channels (e-mail, newsgroups, and chat)
  • GAWs augment CSCL environments
current and future work
Current and Future Work
  • Current work: Testing the hypothesis: “Social affordances, such as GAWs, will facilitate the group forming and group dynamics” using our prototype of a GAW
  • If so, then social affordances devices are a key for creating sociable CSCL environments
  • Future work:
    • More testing
    • Implementing other GAWs
    • Determining an ‘ideal’ set of communication media
    • Etc.
thank you for listening
Thank You For Listening!

Karel Kreijns ([email protected])

Paul A. Kirschner ([email protected])

Wim Jochems ([email protected])

Hans van Buuren ([email protected])