Collaborative Learning in an ICT Text Based Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Communities. What Impact Does it Have on Learning Outcomes?
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This dissertation analyses collaborative learning in synchronous and asynchronous learning communities and come up with the best suitable e-learning community for the Zimbabwean distance students. It focuses on the University of Zimbabwe, Masters of Business Administration first year class studying Business Information Systems course as the research group. The research was divided into three sections, The Structure (Prephase), the process (Experience) and the Outcome (Post phase). At the structure stage, students were grouped randomly into three groups, the synchronous, asynchronous and the control group. The asynchronous and synchronous groups were made to registered and familiarize with the e-learning platform and environment. An ASSIST tool was applied to ascertain the dependent and independent variables that would affect collaboration and usage of the e-learning environment at process stage. At the process stage, the synchronous and asynchronous groups were further divided into smaller groups considering the variables analysed at the structure stage. A time period was set to monitor collaboration using the e-learning platform. Various groups were given different discussion topics which contributed to their coursework and collaboration monitored. At the outcome stage, the SATISFACTION model was applied to determine the way students have been collaborating and their experience in using the e-learning platform. The responses of the synchronous and asynchronous groups were analysed with the coursework results as well as the final results and compared with the control group results. E-learning usage depending on the SATISFACTION model was analysed using the one way ANOVA- repeated measure so as to establish the trend. Comparison of the groups was carried out using the T- Test distribution. The results revealed that students in collaborative synchronous communities have a negative impact on the learning outcomes as compared to the asynchronous communities. The asynchronous collaborative e-iii learning in an ICT text based communities is best suited for the Zimbabwean distance students as compared to the synchronous collaborative communities.