Learning by observing graphical representations increases students’ understanding of the material. When learners draw their own representations of scientific phenomena (like photosynthesis) themselves they are stimulated even more to identify and link key concepts and processes. Drawing also has the potential to serve collaborative learning. Through the creation and modification of a shared representation students are stimulated to share ideas and disambiguate conceptual understanding. ICT-based drawing tools facilitate collaboration through easy modification, sharing and comparison of drawings. Furthermore, support in the form of scripts and scaffolds can easily be implemented in computer based drawing tools.
Over the last three months 98, 5th grade elementary school students worked collaboratively with a computer based drawing tool. Students created drawings of the water cycle and photosynthesis. A first inspection of the data revealed knowledge gains for all participating students. Additional support in the form of activity prompts and a collaboration script had a positive effect on students’ knowledge acquisition.