Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.


G. Forssell Eriksson1, A. Svensson2

1Ytterbyskolan, Kungälv (SWEDEN)
2University West (SWEDEN)
Interactive and communicative situations within social environments are prerequisites for learning in collaboration. Synchronous computer-mediated communication is often used as a means to achieve active learning in collaboration. Synchronous communication thus offers the opportunity to actively engage students in collaborative learning activities. This paper is based on an ethnographic case study of synchronous communication between students in the lower secondary school collaborating in a cross-border project involving Danish, Norwegian and Swedish students. The project is aimed to promote the students in their Scandinavian intercomprehension skills using their own native languages when the students are collaborating in different joint projects. The aim of the paper is to analyze the characteristics of the coping skills of the students within a collaborating learning project using synchronous computer-mediated communication.

One of the students in each group in each of the collaborating countries acted as a group leader, decided in advance. The students were also prepared in advance of what to synchronously discuss with their collaborating Scandinavian student groups. However, a critical part of the synchronous collaboration was the assignment for the group collaboration leader. It has been obvious that the student assigned for the role really is coping with this situation. The group collaborating leader has to take initiative, related the discussion to the actual subject, distribute the word between the participants, ask questions and distribute the questions between the students in the different collaborating countries speaking different neighbor languages. To help in this situation is to have visible name tags on each student. A prerequisite is that the group collaboration leaders have to have the social skills as self-esteem, empathy, emotional intelligence as well as problem solving. Thus, these students need different types of cognitive, affective and social skills related to cope with a real situation performed synchronously with support of information and communication technology. Some students sometimes prove specific coping skills in this real context in the school and are not necessarily those students who are the most skilled within their native language.

The engagement from the teachers is of vital importance for the students’ active participation in the synchronous collaboration. Therefore the teachers have to take part in the background in each room in the different countries within the collaborating computer-mediated synchronous session. This will imply a more serious and engaged participation of all the students. The instructional strategies and advices the students got from the teachers in advance were of significant importance. Moreover, the teachers’ engagement also has an impact on the students’ sense of trust and security between each other and between the students in each collaborating country within the synchronous communication.