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Online Learning Communities for Design

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1006.1 - 25.1006.11



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Paper Authors


Natasha Perova Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Natasha Perova is currently a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She previously worked at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a Research Assistant focusing on students’ learning algebra and also taught an introductory physics course at Suffolk University, Boston, Mass. Before that, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Engineering Educational and Outreach at Tufts University, Medford, Mass. Natasha received her M.S. in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering education in 2008, M.S. in electrical engineering in 2005 from Tufts University, and B.S. in electrical engineering from Suffolk University.

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Sean P. Brophy Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ruth A. Streveler Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Online Learning Communities for DesignWeb 2.0 tools have a potential to enhance a team’s knowledge development through socialcollaboration. Integration of web 2.0 collaborative tools, such as web blogs, wikis, podcasting,social bookmarking, and social networking sites can be especially useful in supportingcollaborative and project-based learning. Often when students are working in teams on science orengineering projects, their initial collaborative workflow is based on group meetings, productionof the document with initial ideas for problem solution, e-mail exchanges of this document forrefinement of main points, and sometimes use of text messaging for scheduling/organizationalpurposes. Ubiquitous access to the teams’ information, shared editing privileges of documentsand the potential to central resources would provide a better support of the workflow and allowstudents to “stay connected” anytime to the project.In our research we used the group space tools in, an in an undergraduate sciencecourse designed for non-science majors. (Collaboratory for EngineeringEducation Research) is an NSF-funded research project aiming to build an online community ofpractice for engineering education researchers to foster interaction, collaboration, knowledgesharing and creating. It emerges from a growing cyberinfrasture called HUBzero with is an opensource environments originally designed to support research communities ability to shareresources. In this paper we consider the ways in which students used the collaborative onlinegroup space to support their project work. In particular, we will present and analyze the data onstudent usage patterns of the wiki group feature to facilitate their productivity and collaborativeknowledge building during their work on shared research project for the semester. Although wikiis widely used in various educational settings not much research has been done to explore theopportunities to integrate wikis into design and project-based courses. Wiki’s contain featuressuch as editing histories of content change, information about who authored them and when theedit were performed. In our research project each student had an account on andeach team had their own unique group space where they can use a wiki for working documentsand a resource manager to store, share and organize resources.This data will be analyzed using the “practice dimension” perspective from the SocialInfrastructure Framework (Bielaczyc, 2006). This framework provides multiple dimensions tosystematically characterize the social infrastructure that emerges in any learning setting whichcan help determine the role of technology in that infrastructure. We see our work aligning withthe practice dimension which “concerns the ways in which teachers and students engage in bothonline and offline learning activities relating to the technology-based tool.” (p. 303)We anticipate the results from this descriptive study will define use patterns of how the wiki wasused to achieve the team’s goals. Our findings will contribute to building knowledge abouteducational technology design, in particular design of the shared workspace for better support ofcollaboration and scaffolding of the group-thinking process in science and engineering projectsin the online environment.References:Bielaczyc, K. (2006). Designing Social Infrastructure: Critical Issues in CreatingLearning Environments With Technology. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(3),301-329.

Perova, N., & Brophy, S. P., & Streveler, R. A. (2012, June), Online Learning Communities for Design Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21763

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