While this analysis of a single longitudinal case study authorizes no generalizations, it could neverthe- less limit generalization of experimental results on (computer-supported) collaborative learning, given that (sub-)cultural differences become relevant factors and also indicate aspects to be considered in further work on integration of CSCL technologies in schools. Close attention may need to be paid to the students’ everyday milieux, discourses, communicative practices, and sub- cultures, as well as the social structure of the class, precisely because these will be at stake in computer- mediated social interaction. Depending on these charac- teristics, groups may need to be created and monitored to neutralize power structures; and a longer period of practice, with explicit teaching of different genres, may be required to lead students to decouple their digital native practices and subcultures from ICT so that the technology may be used for educational ends. In some situations, it may be necessary to engage in very long- term work indeed, on an institutional level, to create the premises for an appropriate pedagogical culture of (computer-mediated) debate.
Within the LEAD project, this work contributed to software redesign and the implementation of the Col- laborative Face-to-Face Educational Environment soft- ware (http://www.coffee-soft.org). Additional aspects relating to teacher control of groups in the classroom were added, to prevent, if the teacher wished, additional logons beyond a predefined list, to ‘freeze’all screens so that the teacher could address the class and to dynami- cally reconfigure groups during sessions. Providing such possibilities for tight teacher control does not oblige teachers to use them; it is possible that teachers could gradually relax control, as the pedagogical approach is appropriated.
Finally, this study raises questions about theories of learning in schools. It goes without saying in much edu- cational psychology research that students who do not genuinely attempt to solve the problems set to them will be ‘excluded from the sample’, given the aim of study- ing effective problem-solving and learning processes. What would the theory of learning in schools be like, which also takes into account students who do not accept to ‘play the educational game’? Such a theory might foreground social relations and identities, social milieux, and discourse genres, seeing knowledge elaboration as a social, cognitive, and discursive practice to be appropriated and articulated with others.
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