Shaffer on When computer-supported collaboration means computer-supported competition: Professional mediation as a model for collaborative learning

When computer-supported collaboration means computer-supported competition: Professional mediation as a model for collaborative learning. (Via David Williamson Shaffer’s Papers.) This article was not explicitly game related, but dealt with many of the issues I’ve been exploring… and there were more Dewey references to boot. :)

Everything from this piece fell into the same category, but here’s the customary explanation… These quotes are categorized based on the section of my own paper they might appear in. They appear with minimal annotation, and they appear sans any formating – I’ve dragged and dropped from my outliner. With any luck, these will be helpful to someone else, and in the meantime, it’s motivating to me to post them as I go. :)

Socially Negotiated

- [ ] Shaffer explored”collaborative learning in a setting marked by
competition as much as cooperation” in which the “processes of
collaborative learning… were fundamentally similar to
collaborative learning processes observed in more cooperative
contexts.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 2)
- [ ] “Collaborative learning environments reflect the fundamentally
social nature of the
learning process, and the importance of developing contexts that
foster constructive and
productive interactions in support of learning—whether or not
those interactions arise in the context of working towards a
shared goal.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 3)
- [ ] “The pattern of collaboration in the studio was for students to
exchange reciprocal consulting on one another’s projects. Each
student had his or her own project, and in both one-on-one and
more public critique sessions, peers and experts offered feedback
on—and often co-designed elements of— those individual projects.
As a result, students were able to develop important
collaborative skills of giving and accepting constructive
criticism without simultaneously having to engage in the complex
process of managing a shared project.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 4)
Single player games are often played ina similarly social way.
- [ ] Apply or relate to other skills, including games “learning naval
navigation is inherently collaborative because it takes place in
an open, distributed system where different parts of the larger
task are delegated to different members of the navigation team.
The social organization of the team reflects the cognitive
structure of the task, in the sense that the person in each
particular role is responsible for a specific part of the process
of navigation.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 4)
- [ ] novices learn by observing and getting feedback from peers
(Shaffer, 2004, p. 5)
- [ ] “Dewey (1958) argued that any expressive endeavor involves
overcoming obstacles in the expressive medium, and that
understanding develops when those obstacles are relevant to the
expressive goal . DiSessa (2000), Erickson & Lehrer (1998), and
Shaffer (2003) have extended that argument, suggesting that
social interactions can similarly function as a productive
constraint on activity. These theorists suggest that as with
obstacles inherent in tool and task, working within social norms
demands reflective thinking.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 6)
- [ ] Simulated Negotiation (p. 8)
- [ ] “How did collaborative learning unfold in a competitive context?”
(Shaffer, 2004, p. 13)
– [ ] “First, interviews with students suggested a strong
relationship between the system of utility points that
structured the negotiation and students’ ability to enact the
role of one of the stakeholders in the simulated dispute” (p.
– [ ] “Interviews further suggested that students came to
understand their own role better from the challenges
presented by peers in the competitive process of the
negotiation—and from the anticipation of those challenges”
(p. 14)
– [ ] “Finally, interviews suggested that exposure to multiple
perspectives in the process of the negotiation helped
students understand the issues” (p. 15)
- [ ] “In other words, simulated negotiation helped students understand
[the issues].
The system of utility points helped students adopt the role of
their assigned stakeholder.
Understanding of that role developed through preparation for
critical challenges from peers in the negotiation. And dealing
with other stakeholders in the negotiation helped students see
multiple perspectives on the issues.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 15)
- [ ] ZPD: In cooperative activities “a learner develops understanding,
in part, by observing work done by his or her peers within what
Hutchins refers to as the horizon of observation of the learner:
the parts of the task he or she can observe from his
or her role in the activity.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 16)
- [ ] “understanding also developed through the need to respond to
critical challenges from peers—what Hutchins refers to as error
correction.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 17)
- [ ] “Because the processes of collaboration are similar in
collaborative and cooperative contexts, such a tool— and, indeed,
any tool to support collaborative competition—would still need to
support (a) mapping between conceptual and social spaces, (b) a
broad horizon of observation that allows learners to see the work
of peers, and (c) error correction that provides learners with
feedback from their peers. In other words, many of the same
features that make the CoWeb (and by extension other
collaborative tools) good at supporting cooperative work will
also be important components of computer-supported competitive
activities.” (Shaffer, 2004, p. 17-18)
- [ ] Shaffer studied a “a computer-supported collaborative environment
marked as much by
competition as by cooperation” and concluded that
“computer-supported collaborative learning need not always be
synonymous with cooperative activity; however, the design of
tools to support collaborative competition may share many of the
properties of tools that support cooperation” (Shaffer, 2004,
p. 18)


Shaffer, D. W. (2004). When computer-supported collaboration means computer-supported competition: Professional mediation as a model for collaborative learning. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 15(2), 101-115.

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