The effectiveness of online collaborative communication (OCC) tools is critical to the new educational paradigm, which focuses on the learner-centered approach to education. Changes in technologies and the implementation of new technologies within educational environments necessitate continual updating of related research activities.
This study evaluated the usage of a wiki, as an effective OCC tool compared to other collaborative means, within a constructivist based team collaborative learning project set in a first-year information technology university course. Small groups of students either utilized the wiki to prepare the collaborative learning project or used other collaborative means to prepare a group report. Students’ learning outcomes were evaluated for effectiveness and knowledge creation. The study also examined students’ interactivity within their respective teams and their perception with regard to the collaborative learning experience. Several demographic and related characteristics were also recorded and analyzed.
A number of multivariate analyses were performed in order to examine the various constructs and predictors within this study. The major construct learning outcomes was evaluated on two factors, effectiveness and knowledge creation. This study did not reveal any significant difference between wiki and non-wiki groups as to learning outcomes.
The construct interactivity was evaluated based on duration of the interactivity and frequency of interaction. This study revealed that duration of interactions was not statistically significant. This study also revealed that there was a statistical significance shown between the two groups in their frequency of interactions. Frequency of interaction was also found to partial contribute to enhanced knowledge creation.
A hierarchical multiple linear regression was performed for each of the three perception variables. Only one perception factor showed statistical significance, that being Technology Benefits. An examination of the individual predictors revealed that previous computer knowledge was a significant predictor of students’ perception of technology benefits. The analysis of student perceptions toward the collaborative learning experience showed a mean score for each factor that leans toward the “agree” side. This study did not reveal any significant difference between wiki and non-wiki groups as to students’ perception.
A final hierarchical multiple linear regression was performed based on the demographic and related characteristics together with the interactivity variables and the type of OCC to examined for their impact on learning outcomes (effectiveness and knowledge creation). The analysis for the effective learning experience revealed that none of these variables could be supported as contributing to this learning outcome. As for knowledge creation, only three variables contributed significantly to this learning outcome, these included; Year of Study, Internet Usage, and Frequency of Interaction. However without a relationship based on OCC type these finding are of little importance.
While the usage of a particular OCC tool may not directly affect students’ learning outcomes, the interrelationship between the OCC tool and interactivity are important in this regard, as are other factors such as prior year of study and one’s familiarity with the Internet. It is important for both students and educators to be aware of OCC tools, such as wikis. The usage of OCC tools will likely continue to evolve and change over time parallel to the telecommunication revolution, thus creating more and varied opportunities within educational settings both locally and across geographic boundaries.