'Hope this helps': peer learning via CMC [poster presentation]

Kear, Karen (2001). 'Hope this helps': peer learning via CMC [poster presentation]. In: European Perspectives on Computer-supported Collaborative Learning, Proceedings of the first European conference on computer-supported collaborative learning, 22-24 Mar 2001, Maastricht, Netherlands.


Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is increasingly used in distance education to provide opportunities for peer learning and support. CMC allows students to share understandings, discuss misunderstandings, and learn from each other. This peer learning can be more effective than interventions by the tutor, for a number of reasons. Students are willing to expose their difficulties to their peers, whereas they might feel uncomfortable doing so to their tutor. Fellow-students understand difficulties which a tutor, with a more advanced view of the topic, may not appreciate. CMC provides an invaluable opportunity for students to discover that other learners are having similar problems to their own.
This paper reports on peer learning via CMC in an Open University course on Digital Communications. Members of staff moderated course-wide conferences whose main purpose was to allow students to help each other. The research reported here was based on a study of conference transcripts. The aim was to identify the ways in which peer learning took place, and the conditions which supported it.

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