Students helping Students Learn: The Case for a Web-based Dynamic FAQ Environment

D. Ngambi (South Africa)


Collaborative Systems, Organizational Memory Systems


The paper reports on the web-based knowledge-sharing environment to academically support under-prepared students from previously disadvantaged socio-economic communities of South Africa. A consultative learning support environment has been developed in which individual students suffering from low self-esteem, low confidence, and with a sense of alienation from the "mainstream" used the web environment to ask and answer questions from one another. Anecdotal evidence suggested that students informally consulted one another within clusters of friends and therefore helped one another to learn. Our primary research question was "can knowledge informally exchanged among students persist beyond a time of consultation?" This paper discusses how students used a dual purpose Computer-Mediated Communication Tool (DFAQ) both as a Collaborative Tool and as an Organizational Memory System. Experiences of users are reported and our conclusion is that persisting student consultation with one another generated a knowledge resource which academically supported a student community and provided useful diagnostic information on students' knowledge levels that informed preparation of suitable teaching materials.

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