Skip to main content
  • Dossier “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”
  • Article
  • Open access
  • Published:

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

Estudio comparativo sobre la colaboración mediante teléfono móvil y ordenador: el caso de los estudiantes universitarios en Japón


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.


Los foros basados en web son la principal forma de comunicación asincrónica en los cursos en línea. Se consideran entornos de aprendizaje colaborativo adecuados para llevar a cabo debates entre grupos de alumnos (Lieblein, citado en Lamb, 2004; Zhu, 2006; Swan, 2001; Palloff y Pratt, 2005). Aun así, a pesar de su relevancia, se ha documentado que los foros basados en web son insuficientes para medir la productividad de la interacción de los participantes. A pesar de que estudios anteriores han sugerido el uso de SMS para apoyar a la colaboración en línea, se han realizado pocas investigaciones para entender si los teléfonos móviles incrementan la interacción en los debates en línea y para saber qué diferencias hay entre la interactiín a través de móvil y ordenador. Así, este estudio preliminar examina la colaboración en línea a través de foros de Moodle en ordenadores y la aplicación del chat LINE en teléfonos inteligentes.

En primer lugar, esta investigación compara de qué manera ambos dispositivos influyen en la participación, la interacción y la colaboración de los estudiantes. En segundo lugar, indaga en las experiencias de colaboración de los estudiantes, sus opiniones y las dificultades con que se han enfrentado en los debates en línea. Finalmente, explora el impacto de ambos medios en el resultado final obtenido por los estudiantes. Basándose en una revisión de la bibliografía existente, el resultado del análisis de contenidos de los mensajes y las experiencias compartidas por los participantes, este estudio llega a la conclusión de que los teléfonos móviles tienen un gran potential para incrementar la interacción en la colaboración en línea.


  • Asi, D., Geoff, M., Geoff, S., & Frances, W. (2010). Mobile learning shareable content object reference model (m-scorm) limitations and challenges. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Tribal.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beuchot, A., & Bullen, M. (2005). Interactions and interpersonality in online discussion forums. Distance Education, 26(1), 67–87. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beurer-Zuellig, B., & Meckel, M. (2008). Smartphones Enabling Mobile Collaboration. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. doi

  • Bishop, J. (2006). Increasing participation in online communities: A framework for human computer interaction. Computers in Human Behavior, 23, 1881–1893. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burnett, K., Bonnici, J. L., Miksa, S. D., & Kim, J. (2007). Frequency, intensity and topicality in online learning: An exploration of the interaction dimensions that contribute to students’ satisfaction in online learning. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 48(1), 21–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burr, L., & Dawson, S. (2003). Codification of interaction within a large scale online forum environment. Paper presented at Educause 2003, University of Adelaide.

  • Fichter, D. (2005). The many forms of e-collaboration: Blogs, wikis, groupware, discussion boards, and instant messaging. Online, 29(4), 48–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hara, N., Bonk, C. J., & Angeli, C. (2000). Content analyses of on-line discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science, 28(2), 115–152. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ingram, A. L., & Hathorn, L. G. (2004). Methods for analyzing collaboration in online communications. In T. S. Roberts (Ed.), Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice (pp. 215–241). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Jahng, N., Nielsen, W. S., & Chan, K. H. E. (2010). Collaborative learning in an online course: A comparison of communication patterns in small and whole group activities. Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 39–58.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jung, I., Choi, S., Lim, C., & Leem, J. (2002). Effects of different types of interaction on learning achievement, satisfaction and participation in web-based instruction. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 39(2), 153–162. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). Want to be my “friend”? What you need to know about social technologies. Teachers Librarian, 34(1). 55–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCrory, R., Putnam, R., & Jansen, A. (2008). Interaction in online courses for teacher education: Subject matter and pedagogy. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 16(2), 155–180.

    Google Scholar 

  • Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Perry, M., & Brodie, J. (2006). Virtually connected, practically mobile. In J. H. E. Andriessen & M. Vartiainen (Eds.), Mobile virtual work: A new paradigm? (pp. 97–127). Heidelberg, Berlin: Springer. doi

    Google Scholar 

  • Roschelle, J. (2003). Unlocking the learning value of wireless mobile devices. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19(3), 260–272. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Savenye, W. C. (2005). Improving online courses: What is interaction and why use it? Distance Learning, 2(6) 22–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sorensen, C., & D. Gibson (2004). Ubiquitous Visions and Opaque Realities: Professionals Talking About Mobile Technologies. The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunication, Information and Media, 6(3), 188–196. doi

    Google Scholar 

  • Swan, K. (2001). Designing factors affecting students satisfaction and perceived learning in asynchronous online courses. Distance Education, 22(2), 306–331. doi

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  • Vonderwell, S., & Zachariah, S. (2005). Factors that influence participation in online learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(2), 213–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, J. R. (2006). Collaboration in mobile virtual work: A human factor view. In J. H. E. Andriessen & M. Vartiainen (Eds.), Mobile virtual work: A new paradigm? (pp. 129–151). Heidelberg, Berlin: Springer. doi

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Wuensch, K. L., Aziz, S., Ozan, E. Kishore, M., & Tabrizi, H. N. (2008). Pedagogical characteristics of online and face-to-face classes. International Journal on E-learning, 7(3), 523–532.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhu, E. (2006). Interaction and cognitive engagement: An analysis of four asynchronous online discussions. Instructional Science, 34, 451–480. doi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zirkin, B., & Sumler, D. (1995). Interactive or non-interactive? That is the question!!! Journal of Distance Education, 10(1), 1–10. Retrieved from

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gibran Alejandro Garcia Mendoza.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Garcia Mendoza, G.A. A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 11, 222–237 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Palabras clave