Computer-supported collaborative learning, shortened to CSCL, is a pedagogical approach whereby learning takes place through social interaction with the help of a computer or via the Internet. This kind of learning is characterized by the construction and sharing of knowledge among participants by the use of technology as the primary means of communication or as a common resource. CSCL can be implemented in both online as well as classroom learning environments and can take place asynchronously or synchronously.
The study of computer-supported collaborative learning is derived from a number of academic disciplines, which includes educational psychology, sociology, instructional technology, social psychology, and cognitive psychology. This type of learning is related to collaborative learning as well as computer-supported cooperative work, or CSCW, for short.
The field of CSCL is heavily derived from numerous learning theories that emphasize that knowledge is the reason behind learners interacting with each other, building knowledge, and sharing knowledge as a group. Since CSCL primarily focuses on collaborative learning and collaborative activity, it takes a lot more from constructivist and social cognitivist learning theories.
One of the most common approaches to the method of CSCL is collaborative writing. Though the final product can be anything from a research paper, a Wikipedia entry, or a short story, the process of planning and writing together encourages students to express their ideas and develop a group understanding of the subject matter. Tools such as interactive whiteboards, blogs, and custom spaces that combine free writing with communication tools can be used to share work, form ideas, and write synchronously.