Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) has shown considerable promise, but thus far the literature has tended to focus on individual technological tools, without due regard for how the choice of one such tool over another impacts CSCL, either in outline or in detail. The present study, therefore, directly compared the learning-related uses of an online discussion forum against such use of a mobile instant-messaging app by the same group of 78 upper-division undergraduate pre-service teachers in China. The participants were asked to use one of the two communication tools during the first of three learning activities, then to switch to the other during the second, and to choose their preferred tool for the third. Based on the results of content analysis, social-network analysis and a survey of the students’ attitudes, it was found that while both tools facilitated collaborative learning, they appeared to have different affordances. Specifically, using the online discussion forum resulted in more communication aimed at knowledge construction, while using the mobile instant-messaging app resulted in more social interactions.
Sun Z, Lin C H, Wu M, et al. A tale of two communication tools: Discussion‐forum and mobile instant‐messaging apps in collaborative learning[J]. British Journal of Educational Technology, 2017.