This paper reports a significant finding from a two‐year study of computer conferencing used to deliver a course unit at a UK university. Computer conferencing has been applied to education alongside a concern to develop co‐operative and collaborative learning strategies. The technology of computer conferencing has been identified as especially appropriate to a co‐operative style of work. This study found that far from collaboration being an outcome of the deployment of computer conferencing it became in some sense the problem. A common ‘gloss’ on the educational changes that are taking place, with the introduction of new technologies for teaching and learning, is that the ‘sage on the stage’ is being replaced by ‘the guide on the side’. This paper argues that this opposition rests on little substantial evidence or research. The moderator/facilitator role advocated as suitable for computer conferencing is shown to be deeply embedded in wider social actions. The orientations of the tutor are heavily inclined towards the demands of assessment. Successful computer‐supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is the outcome of the co‐operative work of all the members of the conference. The application of CSCL relies upon timely interventions by the tutor
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