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1. Concepts

Piaget supposed that young children benefit from peer-based learning because a natural egocentrism necessarily gets challenged—through “the shock of our thought coming into contact with that of others” [Piaget, J., Judgement and Reasoning in the Child. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1928, p. 204]

1.1 Collaboration and Cooperation

Collaboration is a complicated concept that has several dimensions. In individual level collaboration emphasizes one’s role as an active knowledge creator, who constructs own knowledge in social context and real situation and uses high-order thinking and problem-solving skills (Matsuko & al. ). In social level collaboration means a situation where a group of people works towards common goals and tries to form a common view about the subject. That’s why it is crucial that group members strive to understand their peers thinking and how they comprehend different subjects (Pifarré and Staarman).

According to Resta & Laferrière cooperation has also a social context, but it rather means division of the work among participants. However collaboration and cooperation h
ave some genuine features like student-centredness, learning is active and students have to reflect their thoughts and assumptions. Neither of them is suitable for every occasion. Collaboration fits better into learning situations which are ill-structured and cooperation suits to well-structured situations (Resta & Laferrière). Häkkinen & Arvaja points out that collaboration fits very well into learning tasks that demand brainstorming. So this two learning strategies should be seen as learning forms that complete each other rather than compete among themselves.

Dictionary-scenario combines these two strategies. In discussion part collaborative learning becomes visible, when children are forced to negotiate about the topic, reflect their own ideas for the dictionary and consider which would be the best one. In interacting with international
students to form the page, the students work in cooperation since eachpair adds one item in the dictionary

Of course the result of collaborative work is important but according to Pifarré and Staarman the process of shared meaning making is valued just as much. In several sources it is said that collaboration forces children to think wider and in higher abstraction level and according to Arvaja and Mäkitalo-Siegl the cause for it is the participants’ willingness to share their thoughts (Arvaja and Mäkitalo-Siegl, Matsuko & al.  ). Group members feel a sense of solidarity and they want to stay together. In this point emotional aspect comes into the picture. Reaching the sense of solidarity depends on every participant's feelings towards the social situation so in that point group dynamics becomes significant  (Arvaja and Mäkitalo-Siegl). Considering this scenario it is meaningful to make children feel togetherness and motivation towards the international group work and that’s why they should get familiar with each other. If you know whom you are working with the work itself becomes more precious.

1.2 Computer supported collaborative learning

CSCL is one form of collaboration and it’s focus is to figure out how technology can support collaborative learning and the goal of CSCL is to offer learning environments that facilitate collaboration between students  (Resta & Laferrière).  

1.3 Scaffolding

The roots of the concept lie in Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development and the basic principles of scaffolding are based on self-regulated learning, socio-cultural and constructivist learning theory and learner centered psychology (McLoughlin, 2002). The concept concentrates on the needed support in learning process, so that learner has some scaffolds to help him construct knowledge and when he can manage on his own the scaffolds are taken down.  According to McLoughlins article effective scaffolding is defined by:

Reducing the scope for failure in the task that the learner is attempting:

  • enabling learners to accomplish a task that they would not be able to  achieve on their own
  • moving learners to a new and improved zone of understanding
  • bringing learners closer to a state of independent competence

In the dictionary and e-pal scenario teacher’s role is to facilitate children's learning and the justification for it is based on this concept.

Discuss & brainstorm