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Optimising Computer Supported Collaborative Learning within Higher Education: Insights from Student Collaboration on Take-home Group Tasks in Uganda

Lydia Namatende-Sakwa
Loyce Kiiza Kobusingye
Stephen Ndawula
Christopher Isabirye


The growth in computer-supported Collaborative learning (CSCL), especially in higher education, has attracted many research studies. However, there remains a paucity of empirical studies on how it can be taken up within higher education in real-world settings. This study, undertaken with undergraduate students in a Ugandan university, takes up Design Based Research, specifically using Google docs, to provide an empirical example, illuminating how teachers can optimise technology as informed by the SAMR model in order to support Collaborative learning towards the attainment of higher order thinking skills. The study generated some design principles which can be used to inform CSCL. These principles, undergirded by the imperative for teachers to support learners in CSCL, include the provision of a feedback loop to enable learner support; designing in ways that cater for diverse learner styles; tracking and rewarding student contributions; supporting learners to explore and optimise the affordances of tools to complement each other as well as using technology in ways that allow for progression in students’ thinking as well as in their technological skills. The study has implications for teacher training, particularly the inclusion of technology as a key component in solving educational problems within their practice. Specifically, teacher education programmes should ground pre-service and in-service teachers in theoretical frameworks which can support their practice.