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Open Access

A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan

International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education201411:11010222

Received: 15 June 2013

Accepted: 15 October 2013

Published: 15 January 2014


Web-based forums are the major form of asynchronous communication in online courses. They are considered suitable collaborative learning environments to conduct discussions among groups of learners (Lieblein, as cited in Lamb, 2004; Zhu, 2006; Swan, 2001; Palloff & Pratt, 2005). However, despite their relevance, web-based forums have been reported to be lacking when measuring the productivity of participants’ interaction. Although previous studies have suggested the use of Short Message Service in supporting online collaboration, little research has been conducted to understand whether mobile phones increase interaction in online discussions and how interacting via mobile phones differs from desktop computers. Thus, this exploratory case study examines online collaboration through Moodle forums on desktop computers and the LINE chat application on smartphones.

First, this paper compares how these two types of media influence the participation, interaction and collaboration of students. Second, it inquires into the students’ collaboration experiences, opinions, and difficulties they encountered during the online discussions. Finally, it explores the impact that these two types of media had on the students’ final outcome. Based on a literature review, the results of the content analysis of the posts and the experiences shared by the participants, this study concludes that mobile phones have great potential to enhance interaction in online collaboration.


participationinteractiononline collaborationLINEMoodlemobile phonesdesktop computers