Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A., & Jochems, W. (2003). Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: a review of the research. Computers in human behavior, 19(3), 335-353.


Previous research found that there is often a lack of social interaction in the E- learning environments using Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) due to not building personal relationships with group members in a text-based environment. The authors’ significance of the research is to shine a light on the lack of social interaction that effect the validity of collaborative learning using technology. They are focusing on the social and social psychological aspects of group members who are using E- learning. These can be done through training participants in order to promote collaborative learning. The authors conclude the research by an evaluation of instructors and educators’ teaching techniques. They also provided a list of educational techniques to avoid issues related to collaborative learning using technologies such as building social presence and creating a sense of community.

Summary of Key Points

  • Social interaction is the key to the efficiency of collaborative learning
  • Reasons for the failure of social interaction with CSCL includes:
    • Teachers, educators and designers don’t put a lot of effort toward encouraging interaction between students because they assume that interaction will happen because technology allows it.
    • Hobaugh (1997) mentions that the major cause of the failure of group action in an E-learning environment is the problem with social dynamics among group  members:
      •   Member don’t know each other which is not the case with face to face environments
      • E-learning environment forces silence compared to face-to-face
      • The nature of the CSCL’s environment may affect how these messages are interpreted as most messages are typed
      • Using CSCL is limited in time of the task
  •  Factors that affect the effectiveness of collaborative learning are : group size, nature of task, group composition and learning style.

Design principles

In order to have a good learning experience we need pedagogy, content and community. It is necessary to have pedagogy in order to have instruction. Also, it is important to have content to learn about. We also need community for learning. All of these are important and compact each other, so if one of these fails, then the function will also fail. Brush (1998) states that in order to avoid pitfalls of social interaction using CSCL, we need to have integrated learning system. Simonsson (1995) mentions that instructs role is essential whew education has to work hard in order to a good communication between students.


The cognitive aspects of learning has to be taking into consideration when designing using CSCL. Thinking of people is essential part in the success of improving social interaction using CSCL. There has to be chatting, gathering, discussing and confiding. Sproull & Faraj (1997) mentions that When people find a place for gathering and sharing same interest, they are more likely to came back again.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can educators encourage interaction between students in E-learning environments?
  2. What factors affect the efficiency of CSCL?
  3. What are the students’ roles in CSCL environment?

Additional Resources

Gerry Stahl’s professional & personal web network : http://gerrystahl.net/ijcscl/index.html


Brush, T. A. (1998). Embedding cooperative learning into the design of integrated learning systems: rationale and guidelines. Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(3), 5–18.

Sproull, L., & Faraj, S. (1997). Atheism, sex, and databases: the net as a social technology. In S. Kiesler (Ed.), Culture of the internet (pp. 35–52). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Assocs.


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