Group Cognition: Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge

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MIT Press, 2006 - Computers - 510 pages
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Innovative uses of global and local networks of linked computers make new ways ofcollaborative working, learning, and acting possible. In Group Cognition Gerry Stahl explores thetechnological and social reconfigurations that are needed to achieve computer-supportedcollaborative knowledge building--group cognition that transcends the limits of individualcognition. Computers can provide active media for social group cognition where ideas grow throughthe interactions within groups of people; software functionality can manage group discourse thatresults in shared understandings, new meanings, and collaborative learning. Stahl offers softwaredesign prototypes, analyzes empirical instances of collaboration, and elaborates a theory ofcollaboration that takes the group, rather than the individual, as the unit of analysis.Stahl'sdesign studies concentrate on mechanisms to support group formation, multiple interpretiveperspectives, and the negotiation of group knowledge in applications as varied as collaborativecurriculum development by teachers, writing summaries by students, and designing space voyages byNASA engineers. His empirical analysis shows how, in small-group collaborations, the groupconstructs intersubjective knowledge that emerges from and appears in the discourse itself. Thisdiscovery of group meaning becomes the springboard for Stahl's outline of a social theory ofcollaborative knowing. Stahl also discusses such related issues as the distinction between meaningmaking at the group level and interpretation at the individual level, appropriate researchmethodology, philosophical directions for group cognition theory, and suggestions for furtherempirical work.

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Design of Computer Support for Collaboration
Studies of Technology Design
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About the author (2006)

Gerry Stahl is Associate Professor in the College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University. He is founding coeditor of the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning.

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