Technology as small group face-to-face Collaborative Scaffolding

Miguel Nussbaum*, Claudio Alvarez, Angela McFarlane, Florencia Gomez, Susana Claro, Darinka Radovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


There is a wealth of evidence that collaboration between learners can enhance the outcomes for all concerned. This supports the theorization of learning as a socio-cultural practice, framed by Vygotsky and developed by other researchers such as Rogoff, Lave and Wenger. However, there is also evidence that working collaboratively may not be a spontaneous response to working in a group, and that teaching learners how to collaborate, and in particular how to work together to negotiate meaning, is a necessary part of the process of learning collaboratively which can enhance outcomes further. A question for the computer supported collaborative learning community then arises as to whether learning to collaborate can be scaffolded through the use of digital tools, and what such tools might look like. This paper reports on the design of a digital system that aims to support the practice of face-to-face collaboration on open-ended tasks. Findings from trials of the system in classrooms in the UK and Chile show that the model is welcomed both by teachers and pupils, and met its objectives of ensuring greater interaction between class members who did not normally work together, and involvement of all individuals in discussion based activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially funded by CONICYT-FONDECYT 1060712 and 1080100, CONICYT-FONDEF D04T2036, and supported through a donation from Steljes, a UK education company.


  • Cooperative/collaborative learning
  • Improving classroom teaching
  • Learning environments
  • Pedagogical issues
  • Teaching/learning strategies


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