We build a new theory here that the mobile device – which gives equal access to information– does not necessarily lead to effective reasonable fact-based discussions in small groups. Group interactions and informal roles are stronger than information equality, meaning that group dynamics outweigh information access, and thus impact discussion and decision-making more than the fact itself, even in such situations where all participants had equal information at hand. Simply put, it is not the information that makes a group work or perform better than others, even if all have same information available, the group dynamics and interactions are the major factors that decides about the group performance.
For education, it means, when teachers want to support cooperation among students, access to information is not enough, rather instructional guidelines are needed, e.g., supporting Group contracts clarifying input by each member. Also, not all group tasks need equal cooperation levels to be successful, however, for those where equality matters, access to information is necessary but not sufficient to support group performance.
Isa Jhanke and Michele Meinke Kroll. Heliyon. Exploring students’ use of online sources in small groups with an augmented reality-based activity – group dynamics negatively affect identification of authentic online information. (hat tip: NAIS Independent School Magazine Winter 2019).