EXPERIENCE AND OBSERVATIONS OF WEB-BASED COLLABORATIVE LEARNING IN A SOFTWARE SECURITY COURSE

X. Yuan, I. Williams, L. Simpkins, J.H. Kim

North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
Collaborative learning or cooperative learning have been used to improve student academic performance, promote positive psychological and social effects, and enhance students’ interests in learning. To help educators effectively utilize collaborative learning in their teaching, it becomes necessary to investigate the communication and interaction processes that take place during students’ collaborative learning. This paper reports our experience and observations of web-based collaborative learning in an online graduate level software security class offered in the Spring 2015 semester. In this course, the instructors asked the students to log their communications using online discussion forum when working on a group project. This paper reports our observations of the benefits to the students, the instructor, and the Teaching Assistant (TA) , disadvantages and barriers experienced by the students and the instructor and the TA, and observation from students’ work. We have also compared student performance on a group project on risk management done in Spring 2015 utilizing web-based collaborative learning and student performance on the same project in Spring 2014 without requiring students log their communications. Findings from this comparative study are discussed. Our experience and observations will benefit other educators in implementing effective strategies to engage students in web-based collaborative learning.