Academic Technology Center
Teaching with Technology Collaboratory

Promoting Student Collaboration

Teaching Goal

To increase the degree to which students collaborate with one another to promote learning course content.

Benefits of Addressing

Considerable research indicates that when students collaborate with one another they...

Methods of Collaboration

Collaboration Technologies Example/Rationale
Classroom Performance System (CPS) (i.e. "clickers") Encourage students to form groups, discuss solutions, and determine a collective answer using CPS. CPS may also be used for starting conversations about controversial material that may otherwise be difficult to start a conversation about.

Videoconferencing and Webconferencing Videoconferencing and Webconferencing can connect a diverse range of people across great distances, bringing new groups with new perspectives into classroom conversations.

WPI has a TV studio which may be reserved for videoconferences, as well as several portable videoconferencing units for use around campus.

Interwise iMeeting is WPI's webconferencing software. It can be used by any member of the WPI community for academic purposes.

Discussion Boards Discussion boards are by their very nature collaborative tools, offering students the chance to read the full range of perspectives about a topic. Traditional classroom discussion is usually limited to a few students who are comfortable speaking up in class. Discussion boards are a non-threatening and reflective way to hear everyone’s voice and opinion on a topic. myWPI provides a convenient discussion board tool for use in your class.

Considerable research has been conducted on the use of discussion boards. For more information, and to read about some of the best practices of their use, visit the following pages:
Wikis A wiki is a website where multiple individuals add and edit content collectively. Multiple related pages may be linked within the site.

Wikis can be used in teaching for:

  • Encouraging students to build a collaborative knowledgebase
  • Facilitating research coordination and collaboration
  • Group portfolios

Benefits of wikis for students include:

  • A sense of class identify
  • Peer interactivity
  • New modes of assignment submission/completion
  • Ownership of content

myWPI has a wiki tool that can be linked to any course site.

Chat (Instant Messaging) Chat services make it possible for students to communicate with one another in real-time using text and emoticons, or simple graphical faces that represent emotions.

Chat services make collaboration possible over great distances – all that is needed is an Internet connection. Most chat services also provide some means for sharing pictures and files, and some have integrated a shared whiteboard feature.

If students have webcams, they may also be able to share real-time video for collaboration purposes.
Web Conferencing Web conferencing tools such as Interwise, available here at WPI, facilitate real-time collaboration much the same as chat services, but with a more extensive and rich array of features including application sharing.

The application sharing feature enables a user to display their computer screen, including websites, PowerPoint slides, and other software applications, to other users across great distances.
myWPI Groups myWPI has a feature that enables students to work in private groups with their own discussion boards and file sharing space. In addition to providing group members with an online space to work on projects, such collaborative spaces also enable group members to develop closer knit relationships than would be possible if groups only met during class meetings.

Digital Video The ATC loans digital video cameras for the shooting and production of digital movies and the Movie Lab has a variety of editing tools. Such projects usually make use of the group’s variety of strengths and rely heavily upon advanced planning and discussion.


Alavi, M. (1994). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: An empirical evaluation. MIS Quarterly, 18(2), 159-174.

Bligh, D.A. (2000). What’s the use of lectures. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

Borresen, C.R. (1990). Success in introductory statistics with small groups. College Teaching, 38(1), 26-28

Cooper, J., Prescott, S., Cock, L., & Smith, L. (1990). Cooperative learning and college instruction. California State University, Dominguez Hills: Cooperative Learning Users’ Group.

Curtis, D.D. , & Lawson, M.J. (2001). Exploring collaborative learning online. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(1), 21-34.

Gokhale, A. (1995). Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking. Journal of Technology Education, 7(1), 22-30.

Hiltz, S. R. (1998). Collaborative learning in asynchronous learning networks: Building learning. Proceedings of WebNet 98', World Conference of the WWW and the Internet.

Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (1986). Action research: Cooperative learning in the science classroom. Science and Children, 24, 31-32.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T. (1996). Cooperation and the use of technology. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 1017-1044). New York: Macmillan.

Kulik, J.A., & Kulik, C.L.C. (1979). College teaching. In P.L. Peterson & H. Walberg (Eds.), Research on teaching: Concepts, findings and implications. Berkeley, CA: McCutcheon.

McKeackie, W.J., Pintrich, P.R., Lin, Y., & Smith, D. (1987). Teaching and learning in the college classroom: A review of the research. Ann Arbor, MI: NCRIPTAL.

McManus, M. M. and Aiken, R.M. (1995). "Monitoring Computer Based Collaborative Problem Solving", Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education , 6(4) , 308-336.

Neer, M. R. (1987). The development of an instrument to measure classroom comprehension. Communication Education, 36, 154-166.

Shooter, S., & McNeil, M. (2002). Interdisciplinary collaborative learning in mechatronics at Bucknell University. Journal of Engineering Education, 91(3), 339-344.

Shull, P.J. (2005). Collaborative learning and peer assessment to enhance student performance. Journal of Engineering Technology, 22(1), 10-15.

Slavin, R.E. (1987). Cooperative learning: Student teams (2nd ed.). Washington D.C.: National Education Association.

Smith, D. (1986). Cooperative learning groups. In S.F. Schomberg (Ed.), Strategies for active teaching and learning in university classrooms: A handbook of teaching strategies. St. Paul, MN: Northwest Area Foundation.

Totten, S., Sills, T., Digby, A., & Russ, P. (1991). Cooperative learning: A guide to research. New York: Garland.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Maintained by
Last modified: May 07, 2008, 14:06 EDT
[WPI] [ATC] [Home] [Back] [Top]