How do Students Choose and use Technology for Collaborative Learning?
In this case study, 86 physiotherapy undergraduate students studying a third year module, chose a blend for a collaborative task. Data was focused in capturing the students’ experience, and included interviews, questionnaires, and observation of both face-to-face and online activity. The students held strong views on collaborative learning that included inclusivity, valuing difference, democracy and the importance of all group members participating fully in decision making. All groups used a similar range of technology. They highly valued the classroom technologies provided in a specialised collaborative classroom that included computers and data projectors that enabled a group to visualise their output and connect to their online group sites. They used the online environment (the University’s managed learning environment) largely as a repository, ‘offloading’ some of the organisational components of collaboration and for knowledge acquisition that enabled them to use the face-to-face meetings for interaction and co-construction of knowledge. They did not use the asynchronous facilities for discussion, more for basic information giving, in common with other studies on undergraduate students. Students also wanted their education and social sites e.g. Facebook kept separate. The process undertaken in completing the weekly tasks had clear stages which included individual and group components. The students’ experience reflected aspects of both of the two major metaphors of learning ‘acquisition’ and ‘participation’. Students organised their use of technology to enable them to maximise interaction when they met faceto- face. The implications for practice include, creating more dedicated high technology classrooms, introducing technologies in a structured way earlier in the course and tutors modelling their use.