Tracing knowledge transfer through a Wiki in an online, synchronous environment
This study was a two-year, design experiment that had two purposes. The first purpose was to describe the interactions in an online synchronous environment of students at three different high schools, two in New Jersey and one in Rio de Janeiro, and the second was to understand the contributions of these interactions on students' development of mathematical ideas. The online environment is called Virtual Math Teams, developed at Drexel University and hosted at mathforum.org. In this study, the interactions are defined as the uses of the Wiki and other affordances of the online environment. The central research questions were twofold: (1) How do students use wikis in an online, synchronous website to integrate knowledge from other groups? (2) How do students use the affordances of an online environment as they work on social choice problems involving fair division?
Two major findings result from this study. First, results indicate that students transferred knowledge through the use of wikis in particular ways. Second, the affordances of the environment allowed the students to communicate as a group without the use of audio or video connections to exchange and build mathematical ideas. Moreover, the findings of this investigation challenge previous research (Figlio, Rush, & Yin, 2010) on limitations in students' ability to effectively communicate in an online environment. Students in this study used the affordances of the environment to integrate information from other groups and to collaborate on problems in the fields of combinatorics and social choice. The transfer of knowledge between groups through the Wiki is useful for teachers exploring the instructional use of emergent technologies.
0710: Educational technology