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American Accounting Association

Collaborative Discovery Learning Online
in an Information Systems Assurance Course

A. Faye Borthick
Georgia State University


The 2000 recipient of the American Accounting Association's Innovation in Accounting Education Award is A. Faye Borthick, Georgia State University, for the project "Collaborative Discovery Learning Online in an Information Systems Assurance Course."

The basis for the innovation is the idea that immersing learners in a community of practice in which they solve problems together (collaborative discovery learning) is more likely to be effective in preparing students for evolving work environments than learning events characterized by teachers standing in front of classes dispensing knowledge. That is, it is more important to help students learn how to find or create knowledge as they need it and to negotiate its meaning within the community of practice than to teach them only what the teacher believes they need to know now. In collaborative discovery learning online, learners seek the knowledge they need and solve problems together in virtual environments with electronic access to resource materials, others' work, and Web-enabled discussions occurring in real time (synchronously) and sequentially (asynchronously). The online approach prepares students for participating in a workplace in which professionals collaborate electronically to achieve team objectives but rarely see each other due to time or distance constraints.

Collaborative discovery learning online was implemented in the master's course in information systems assurance with synchronous class sessions conducted over the Internet with a chat room for discussions and presentation frames for access to Web sites containing course resources and student work. In addition to class sessions, examinations were administered online. The enhancement has the benefits of making learning more effective due to its use of collaborative discovery learning online, more accessible because participants may be anywhere they have Internet access, and more affordable because the course could be available to students in organizations where it has been economically infeasible to offer it locally.

The innovation and the learning experiences incorporated in it are the subject of the following:

  • Borthick, A. F. 2000. Analysis of design from a community of practice dialog: Negotiating the meaning of auditing information system development. Journal of Information Systems 14 Supplement.
  • Borthick, A. F., and Jones, D. R. 2000. The motivation for collaborative discovery learning online and its application in an information systems assurance course. Issues in Accounting Education 15(2): 181-210.
  • Borthick, A. F., Jones, D. R., and Kim, R. 2001. Developing database query proficiency: Assuring compliance for responses to Web site referrals. Journal of Information Systems 15(1).
  • Borthick, A. F., Jones, D. R., and Wakai, S. 2000. Designing learning experiences within learners' zones of proximal development (ZPDs): Enabling collaborative discovery learning online. Working paper, Georgia State University.

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