CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Collaborative Learning and Wireless Local Area Networks

Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Timothy Ellis

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

William L. Hafner

Abstract

This study investigated the appropriate methods for incorporating collaborative activities supported by wireless local area networks in the middle school classroom environment. The project addressed the problem that although current educational practice indicates the value of incorporating collaborative learning in the middle school classroom, the physical setting, lack of training, and a narrow scope of vision tend to block that incorporation in many schools. The goal of this project was to develop and evaluate a process model that can be utilized to facilitate the collaborative learning process through the incorporation of wireless LAN's in a middle school environment.

Criteria that are necessary for a successful product were established and matrices based on the established criteria were developed. An eight-member Formative Committee was assembled to establish a criteria set for the process model. The committee consists of seven educators from the Emanuel County School System, plus one representative from the system-wide technological support staff. The Formative Committee examined current practices and methodologies associated with collaborative learning in the classroom. This committee also investigated methods in which collaborative activities can be enhanced through the utilization of wireless networks.

An Expert Committee was responsible for validating the criteria established by the Formative Committee. This four member Expert Panel was selected from teacher educators in local colleges and universities based on teaching experience, expertise in collaborative learning, expertise incorporating computers in the classroom, and expertise developing educational support materials. The validation was accomplished utilizing surveys and formative feedback based on criteria recommended by the Formative Committee. Current collaborative activities were examined and guidelines were developed that meet the requirements of the validated criteria.

A pilot study was conducted in order to aid in the developmental process. An eighth grade music appreciation course was utilized in the pilot study. This class utilized computers connected via a wireless network and the process model that was developed based on the established criteria, to support the collaborative activities. A Development Committee examined the results from the pilot study. This committee was composed of three members from the Formative Committee and three members from the Expert Panel.

Data gathered from the Development Committee and the pilot study was incorporated into the process model. After recommendations from the Development Committee were examined and integrated into the product, a Summative Committee was developed in order to evaluate the process model. This committee presented recommendations for future modifications as well as future areas of research.

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