Analysis of cross‐cultural online collaborative learning with social software

Effie Lai‐Chong Law (Department of Computer Science, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Anh Vu Nguyen‐Ngoc (Department of Computer Science, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 23 November 2010



The rising popularity of social software poses challenges to the design and evaluation of pedagogically sound cross‐cultural online collaborative learning environments (OCLEs). In the literature of computer‐mediated communications, there exist only a limited number of related empirical studies, indicating that it is still an emergent research area. The purpose of this paper is to describe an OCLE – iCamp Space – which addresses the challenges by integrating three pedagogical concepts – cross‐cultural collaboration, self‐directed learning (SDL) and social networking – with the aim to advance participants' competencies and by mixed‐method approaches to evaluating the complex situations.


A validation field study involving four European countries was conducted. Groups of students co‐created a questionnaire, which was assessed to provide an indicator of task performance. Multi‐source (surveys, blogs, emails, diaries, chats, videoconference and interviews) and multi‐perspective data (facilitators, students and researchers) were studied with social network analysis, content analysis and conversation analysis.


Motivation of learners as well as facilitators is the critical success factor for an OCLE; voluntary involvement is recommended. Participants should be provided with basic training on the use of selected social software tools. Other critical success factors include task selection that contributes to participants' sense of ownership and moderately structured setting that offers some guidance whilst leaving room for the development of SDL competence.


The paper enhances a limited, albeit increasing, number of empirical studies deploying social software for educational purposes. It thus contributes to a body of applied knowledge that enables a coherent understanding of this specific research topic to be drawn.



Lai‐Chong Law, E. and Vu Nguyen‐Ngoc, A. (2010), "Analysis of cross‐cultural online collaborative learning with social software", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 247-263.

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