New Publication: "Interaction Synchronicity in Web-based Collaborative Learning Systems"

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Bader-Natal, A. Interaction Synchronicity in Web-based Collaborative Learning Systems. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2009 (E-LEARN 2009), pp. 1121-1129.
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While many web-based learning systems connect students asynchronously, fewer systems focus on facilitating synchronous interactions among learners. Given the value of real-time communication - the social and motivational benefits of having a cohort of peers and the ability for a student to get immediate answers to pressing questions - it is perhaps surprising that more systems do not support interaction synchronicity. We suggest that this is due, in part, to a mismatch between the hypertext document-oriented nature of the web and the social activity-oriented nature of learning, and we explore how several systems address this discrepancy. We discuss Grockit, a web-based learning environment that we designed to support both synchronous and asynchronous interactions, and share lessons learned from grappling with the choices enabled by this flexibility: Which interactions should to be synchronous? Which should be asynchronous? Which should be a mix? What should that mix be?