Scaffolding problem-based learning with CSCL tools

Dr. Jingyan Lu

Lu, J., & Lajoie, S. P., & Wiseman, J. (2010) Scaffolding Problem Based Learning with CSCL Tools. International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, 5(3), 283-298. DOI:10.1007/s11412-010-9092-6

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Small-group medical problem-based learning (PBL) was a pioneering form of collaborative learning at the university level. It has traditionally been delivered in face-to-face text-based format. With the advancement of computer technology and progress in CSCL, educational researchers are now exploring how to design digitally-implemented scaffolding tools to facilitate medical PBL. The “deteriorating patient” (DP) role play was created as a medical simulation that extends traditional PBL and can be implemented digitally. We present a case study of classroom usage of the DP role play that examines teacher scaffolding of PBL under two conditions: using a traditional whiteboard (TW) and using an interactive whiteboard (IW). The introduction of the IW technology changed the way that the teacher scaffolded the learning. The IW showed the teacher all the information shared within the various subgroups of a class, broadening the basis for informed classroom scaffolding. The visual records of IW usage demonstrated what students understood and reduced the need to structure the task. This allowed more time for engaging students in challenging situations by increasing the complexity of the problem. Although appropriate scaffolding is still based on the teacher’s domain knowledge and pedagogy experience, technology can help by expanding the scaffolding choices that an instructor can make in a medical training context.