Collaborative learning of visual information with computers can be particularly beneficial for acquiring complex and abstract knowledge. This article describes a computer-supported collaborative visual learning environment called TurtleGraph that was designed to assist learners in capturing the concept of recursion as well as recursive programming skills. In this distributed learning environment, students were requested to collaborate with their partners to write LL;SP-LOGO recursive programs in order to solve geometric pattern drawing problems. The instructional aim of the TurtleGraph collaborative visual learning environment was to foster active knowledge processes through collaborative work that helps learners make their strategic thinking more explicit and induce more reflective thoughts, and also helps them be more critical in evaluating and interpreting the adequacy of their knowledge. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.