Symmetrical support in FlashMeeting: a naturalistic study of live online peer-to-peer learning via software videoconferencing
This paper reports on a naturalistic study of peer-to-peer learning, in a live, online-video meeting context. Over a 6-month period a group of international students of animation attended 99 live, online study group events amounting to around 120 hours of live broadcast meeting time. Some meetings were very large, with up to 34 participants, but the average participation was 10 students. These events were entirely self-organized, policed and managed by the student community. Some students emerged as natural mentors, and the group exhibited substantial supportive, mutually facilitative roles. This longitudinal study provides concrete measures of the impact of simple, live videoconferencing in an online learning context. The study also shows that learners can provide symmetrical support for each other in a live non-formal, peer-learning context, even without a formal scaffold of lectures and seminars.
Submitted to Computers and Education, October 2006