The Collaborative construction of knowledge through online forums for the development of sociocognitive writing skills
Dala Costa, Natalia
Gana, Ileana Yamina
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Changes in the production, transmission and access to information generated by information and communication technologies (ICTs) require new skills and offer cognitive and social opportunities for the construction of knowledge and collaborative learning. As a consequence, new literacy teaching models are required. In this context, literacy implies developing not only instrumental competences but also cognitive and social skills to interact with information and transform it into knowledge in a collaborative manner. Even though online learning projects have increased in popularity, web-based language learning (WBLL) is still uncommon in higher education around the world (Zheng, Warschauer & Farkas, 2013). In this context, the main objective of this paper is to analyse the impact of a blended learning project carried out in the virtual classroom of an English Language II university course, in which digital technologies are introduced for the collaborative construction of knowledge in virtual learning environments. The specific objectives are: (a) to carry out a forum debate in the virtual classroom as a pre-writing activity for the collaborative construction of knowledge, (b) to analyse the types of collaboration and the cognitive skills employed by the students, and (c) to carry out surveys to obtain the students' perceptions about this online activity. We present a theoretical framework about the educational role of ICTs to achieve the construction of knowledge and collaborative learning, two competences included in digital literacy, also called multiliteracy and new literacy by authors (Area & Pessoa, 2012; Pasadas Ureña, 2010) who coincide that literacy requires more complex processes than the instrumental use of technology. We also reflect on the implications of the collaborative construction of knowledge in WBLL environments and the usefulness of forum debates as a pre-writing activity. For this purpose, we develop a conceptual framework based on the classification of online collaboration proposed by Salmons (2008) and Collison et al. (in Arango, 2003), and Bloom's (1971) taxonomy of levels for the construction of knowledge and cognitive skills. We also describe the methodology used for the forum debate. Finally, we present the results and the limitations of this study, its pedagogical applications and future lines of research.