Computer-supported collaborative learning
(CSCL) has two important characteristics: the digital part and the
collaborative part. I need to emphasize that I believe that CSLC is the future
of education as the digital space and tools combine synchronous and
asynchronous learning methods that in combination enhance learning, and
further, they make the impossible possible, that is we can be everywhere (digitally)
without leaving our homes or offices. This is not only comfortable for the
individuals but also environmentally friendly as we don’t need to travel. In
addition, the collaborative element makes discussions and reflection central
parts of the learning process leading to deeper learning. In the following
paragraphs I will focus on CSCL limitations and some suggestions in order to
address them.

The first important characteristic is that
the learning activity is computer-supported (I will use the term digital). Sources
of frustration in digital learning environments are the communication and interaction
limitations due to spatial and time distances. These barriers negatively affect
spontaneous communication and the sense of community (Melrose & Bergeron,
2006; Rettie, 2003, Sallnäs, 2004). Other sources of frustration are delay of
feedback and time zone differences (Grinter, Herbsleb, & Perry, 1999;
Romero, 2006, 2010). I strongly believe that when video meetings are a main
part of the learning activities, the communication barriers can almost be
eliminated, whereas when the online learning is based only on asynchronous
methods, these barriers are substantial. The important issue here is to find a
good balance, in other words to combine synchronous and asynchronous learning

The second important characteristic is the
collaborative element. Traditional learning methods are based on the transmission
and mastery of information; however, more recent learning methods, including such
online methods, focus on collaboration (Bruffee, 1999; Dirkx & Smith,
2004). Collaborative learning methods have numerous advantages (Panitz, 2001;
Roberts, 2005), but may also lead to frustration mainly due to commitment
imbalance /asymmetry, unshared goals and lack of consensus (Garisson, 2017).

In conclusion, CSCL are characterized by
two elements, online and collaborative learning, with important advantages, but
also limitations leading to frustration. If we can address these limitations, I
believe that CSCL is the future of education. My own reflection here is that
when we interact/communicate/collaborate, there is always a risk that we are
going to experience frustration, but there is also an opportunity to experience
very positive emotions and acquire deeper knowledge compared to traditional
learning methods as lectures. The solution is not to abandon collaborative
methods, but to improve them in order to get both knowledge and satisfaction.
The key here is a good structure, common goals and active facilitators who
inspire the students and make them feel safe in the online collaborative
environment. I am certain that in the near future, we will be able to
communicate online using more sophisticated technology, and that the online
communication will thereby resemble more a face-to-face communication.

Online collaborative learning. The future of education or just another source of frustration?