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International Conference on Computer Supported Education, CSEDU - Proceedings ; 2:503-510, 2023.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-20242941


Although the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted learning for students worldwide, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has more severely impacted education for Ukrainian students. This study was conducted in the context of an educational technology master's thesis (Halchevska, 2022) at the University of Tartu, Estonia. A master's student with Ukrainian background contacted a biology teacher in Ukraine and offered to help teach an online collaborative lesson about genetics and the laws of inheritance. The lesson involved using an innovative computer simulation called the Collaborative Rabbit Genetics Lab. The learning materials were translated into Ukrainian. A quasi-experimental research design compared whether prior experience working with a collaborative seesaw simulation would influence outcomes later with the biology-related collaborative simulation. Data from two classes of 9th-grade students were collected using questionnaire items related to the perception of interdependence, an open-ended question about collaboration, and a focus group interview. The results indicate that prior practice with a collaborative simulation somewhat enhanced perceived collaboration the next time students worked with a similar type of interdependent task but did not affect task performance. The findings suggest that more guidance is needed to support learners in online collaboration when they solve interdependent tasks. Copyright © 2023 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda. Under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

26th International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Social Computing, CollabTech 2020 ; 12324 LNCS:128-142, 2020.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1017000


Much of the research about distance learning and online collaboration comes from higher education or adult learner contexts. Less is known about the experiences and challenges of school teachers involved in instructing young teenagers remotely. In response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the government of Estonia ordered national school closures and established a temporary period of distance learning. This sudden move to online education was unexpected and required school teachers to quickly adjust. In this study, we interviewed five middle school science teachers about 5 weeks after the start of school closures. Prior research indicates that even during regular times, maintaining teenagers’ interest for science studies is challenging. Our aim was to find out how science teachers had adapted their teaching at a time of unprecedented educational disruption, what challenges they encountered and to what extent they applied collaborative learning practices. All of the teachers reported using video conferencing tools to engage in synchronous communication with students. In addition, they all reported using school learning management systems to share information. However, none of the teachers felt that the distance learning situation was conducive to supporting collaborative learning. We discuss the main challenges mentioned by teachers and some of the implications for the design and development of online collaborative technologies and practices. Our findings highlight that establishing cognitive, social and teaching presence with young teenagers appears to be the main challenge for distance learning. Difficulty in establishing social presence was apparently a particularly serious barrier for school science teachers to promote collaboration at a distance. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.