Though each student is assessed individually, group activities in the classroom support the success of the individual as well as the group. More often students’ success relies on collaborative learning when sharing ideas in online discussions and simulations (Mandernach, 2010). From an online class perspective, designing methods for social interaction and collaboration provides their basic foundation. The key to a successful online class is to evaluate and to select the types of communication tools that fit the instructor’s pedagogy, the needs of the learner, and the objectives of the course. Electronic communication tools have the potential to be used for communication purposes and to provide instructional resources in educational environments (Farmer, Yue and Brooks, 2008; Tekinarslan, 2008). It is claimed that the access and use of these tools is a useful practice for the development of higher order thinking skills, learner centered pedagogy, active and authentic learning, associative thinking, and for supporting online learning communities (O'Donnell, 2006; Farmer, Yue and Brooks, 2008). Online communication tools have a considerable promise for supporting collaborative learning. When designing course activities, categorizing electronic communication tools in separate categories by asynchronous (e.g. anytime communication) and synchronous (e.g. live communication) will help to identify the composition of the activity. Asynchronous communication and collaboration tools include emails, discussion forums, wikis, and blogs, while synchronous tools include chats, videoconferencing or etherpad (Schaffert & Ebner, 2010). These tools are relatively easy to use and help build a sense of community in the online classroom. Porter (2004) indicated that both types of communication tools are providing group learners with different preferences, and allow the flexibility of matching the students’ preferred learning style. The purpose of this study is to describe the effect of using synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in group activities to develop collaborative skills. Thus, the design of two experimental groups was used, a group used synchronous communication tool (video call), and another group used asynchronous communication tool (wiki). Participants belonged to one of two groups of learners. They are 3rd year students at Khaled Ibnelwalled preparatory school at Mansoura. The findings highlighted the fact that using communication tools is a useful practice for the development of higher order thinking skills, learner centered pedagogy, active and authentic learning, associative thinking, and collaborative learning skills. However, this study found out that using asynchronous communication tools are more appropriate to develop collaborative learning skills than synchronous communication tools. Asynchronous communication tools were ideal for participants to work and cooperate with each other. Finally, the study supports using asynchronous communication tools for online group activities to develop collaborative skills.


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  • Received: 30 April 2015
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