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Using online collaboration applications for group assignments: The interplay between design and human characteristics

Koh, Elizabeth ; Lim, John

Computers & Education, September 2012, Vol.59(2), pp.481-496 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Using online collaboration applications for group assignments: The interplay between design and human characteristics
  • Author/Creator: Koh, Elizabeth ; Lim, John
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Collaborative Learning ; Architectures for Educational Technology System ; Authoring Tools and Methods ; Computer-Mediated Communication ; Individual Differences ; Education
  • Is Part Of: Computers & Education, September 2012, Vol.59(2), pp.481-496
  • Description: In recent years, educators and students are increasingly employing online collaboration applications such as Google Docs™ and PBWorks™ for group projects and assignments. Yet, the effectiveness of these emerging technologies has not been rigorously examined. Anchoring upon and informed by the existing literature, two design characteristics – sociability and visibility, and two human characteristics – gender and age, are focused on, which are salient in online collaboration applications. A field experiment was conducted to examine the direct and moderating effects of design and human characteristics on learning outcomes. The research found that sociability improved process satisfaction and positive social environment while visibility enhanced academic performance and solution satisfaction of learners. Males had higher solution satisfaction while older learners had higher academic performance. Moderating effects were also found. Both theoretical and practical implications are drawn. In particular, a rubric for online collaboration application selection for academic performance is conceived. This study provides empirical support for online collaboration application effectiveness in education which will augur well for future adoption, use and evolution. ► Quasi-experiment on design and human characteristics of collaboration applications. ► Sociability improves process satisfaction and positive social environment. ► Public visibility enhances academic performance and solution satisfaction of learners. ► Males have higher solution satisfaction; older learners higher academic performance. ► Rubric for collaboration application selection for academic performance is conceived.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0360-1315 ; E-ISSN: 1873-782X ; DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.02.002