LEAD‎ > ‎


A short description

“That morning the students had their lesson in the computer room. The teacher told them that they would work in small groups to discuss their solutions for the problem that was introduced during the previous lesson. Besides face-to-face, students could also discuss electronically. At first, the students reacted with surprise: “Why should we use computers if we can talk orally?” When they started to discuss with the support of the computer, the shared workspace of the computer application enabled them to put forward their ideas in writing. Thereby, creating a dynamic representation of the knowledge they shared during their discussion.”

Most visionary views of education and technology project a future of online collaboration, distance learning and virtual teaching. This orientation towards networked computing as a means to bridge time and space may limit our understanding of the potentials of such technologies. Networked-computing technology can also be used for face-to-face collaboration. Tomorrow’s learning will still takes place in schools where learners meet face-to-face to collaborate, to discuss and to solve problems. Networked-computing support for these situations must have a distinct added value which cannot be traced back to overcoming time and space.

Effective support for face-to-face situations

The LEAD project stresses that one of the most important challenges with regard to technology-enhanced learning is to develop effective networked-computing support for face-to-face group discussions. The project calls into question the typical situation where a group of students sit together to talk about a topic orally. The LEAD project assumes that with the appropriate support, students are better able to discuss a complex topic. Especially networked-computing support has the potential to create an environment that promotes collaboration and learning.

Networked-computing support splits the collaborative atom. It breaks down group communication into a face-to-face and a computer-mediated part. The computer-mediated activities may lead to the occurrence of particular forms of interaction, which would trigger specific learning mechanisms.

In order to develop a deeper understanding of the learning processes in these situations, the LEAD project will take into account social, cognitive, and developmental processes that make a difference.

A focus on problem-solving discussions

The LEAD project will enhance state-of-the-art research by studying this complex interplay within a face-to-face classroom setting. The project focuses on one specific type of "higher-level cognitive" learning activity, i.e. collaborative problem solving. Collaborative problem solving is an essential aspect of our day-to-day performance in society. In addition, when people solve problems they learn. It is therefore not surprising that problem solving as a learning activity has a long and fruitful tradition in educational practice.

The LEAD project blends empirical educational research with theory-driven design. This will result in the design of a Discussion Support System (DSS) with associated theoretical models and pedagogical scenarios for face-to-face problem solving.