The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools

The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools

G. Andrew Page (The University of Alaska Anchorage, USA) and Radwan Ali (Kennesaw State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-654-9.ch010
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The key idea that sets constructivism apart from other theories of cognition was launched about 60 years ago by Jean Piaget. It was the idea that what is called knowledge does not and cannot have the purpose of producing representations of an independent reality, but instead has an adaptive function (Von Glasersfeld, 1996, p.3). In this chapter, a variety of Web 2.0 applications and their affordances are presented and discussed in relation to constructivism in higher education. The aim is to explain how these applications can be used in higher education to promote interactive and engaging learning environments. Recommendations for harnessing the potential of these tools along with practical examples will assist facilitators of higher education with creative means to design their courses and thus promote Learning 2.0.
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What Is Web 2.0?

The Internet has presented great opportunity for global human participation by transcending geographical, cultural, religious, social classification, and political barriers. As the proliferation of learning with technology increases, there is also amplification in the array of technological possibilities for a variety of asynchronous and synchronous interactions. Therefore, it becomes necessary to provide insight into the effective use of these technologies and the facilitation of e-learning. According to Schrum and Hong (2002) the goals of teaching with technology should include facilitating higher-level, thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Alexander describes this phenomenon:

Web 2.0 is defined as a way of creating webpages focusing on microcontent and social connections between people. It also exemplifies that digital content can be copied, moved, altered, remixed, and linked, based on the needs, interests, and abilities of users—quite against the grain of both traditional and recently expanded copyright (Alexander, 2008, p.151).

There are many creative Web 2.0 applications, tools, and services available online (See Appendix A for a list of digital resources and links). These tools or web-based learning objects have the potential to engage and involve the learner with technology as opposed to having a student learn from a computer module or digital lecture. There are many Web 2.0 tools that can be found at different sites on the web. For the purpose of this chapter, we will discuss blogs, wikis, widgets, nings, plugins, social networking (MySpace and Facebook), and virtual environments (Second Life). What issues will Web 2.0 solve? What are the potential learning outcomes from using Web 2.0? It is the promises of positive educational outcomes that web-based tools can potentially produce through quality interaction at a meta-level that are intriguing many educators and trainers.

This chapter has implications for instructors, students, instructional designers, and administrators involved with e-learning in higher education. This chapter also provides a synthesis of e-learning issues and an overview of Web 2.0 tools for promoting a constructivist environment.

The 5th edition of The Principles of Instructional Design (Gagne, Wager, Golas, Keller, 2005), states a very important instructional design question which is often overlooked. The question is “For what problem is instruction the solution?”(p.23). This question is especially relevant considering the numerous challenges and limitless potential of Web 2.0 tools. By using Web 2.0 tools the theory of constructivism can be applied to reach new levels of digital creation and e-learning.

Constructivism is the process of linking new understanding to old, modifying and enriching existing knowledge, and enhancing depth of comprehension about a topic. McFedries refers to Web 2.0 as functioning as a platform (p.68) because of the ability to delete, edit, and add content and work collaboratively with others in a synchronous approach.

“Constructivism affords a knowledge building process that engages active learners with the physical and social world” (Twomey-Fosnot, 1996, p.30). These interactive online tools include portals, blogs and video blogs, widgets, plugins, wikis, conferencing, games, survey instruments and games. Using these Web 2.0 tools in an educational setting builds on Vygotsky’s (1978) view of interactive learning within the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and how the social process is crucial to the development of thought and behavior patterns. The application and integration of quality educational content is an important part of the constructivist framework. This is the adaptive function of constructivism alluded to by Von Glasersfeld (1996).

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Michael Sherman
Carla R. Payne
Chapter 1
Maria Luisa Pérez Cavana
Taking into account the complexity and multiplicity of constructivist theories, the first part of this chapter focuses on the relationship between... Sample PDF
Closing the Circle: From Dewey to Web 2.0
Chapter 2
Noel Fitzpatrick, Nóirín Hayes, K.C. O’Rourke
Constructivism has become the comfortable face of educational theory in recent years, due in no small part to the mainstreaming of learning... Sample PDF
Beyond Constriction and Control: Constructivism in Online Theory and Practice
Chapter 3
Barbara de la Harpe, Fiona Peterson
There is a strong move worldwide for a constructivist theory to underpin the way teaching and learning are viewed in today’s colleges and... Sample PDF
The Theory and Practice of Teaching with Technology in Today's Colleges and Universities
Chapter 4
Karen Swan, D.R. Garrison, Jennifer C. Richardson
This chapter presents a theoretical model of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, which is grounded in John Dewey’s... Sample PDF
A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework
Chapter 5
Jennifer Lee, Lin Lin
Based on constructivist principles, this chapter provides a new instructional design map for online learning environments. This instructional design... Sample PDF
Applying Constructivism to Online Learning: A New Instructional Design Map
Chapter 6
Beth Rubin
Constructivist education usually involves authentic assessment, which is affected by the media used to teach. Information technology can enhance or... Sample PDF
Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology
Chapter 7
Xenia Coulter, Alan Mandell
The adult college student, caught between the competing demands of work and home, has recently become a valuable commodity in today’s fast-changing... Sample PDF
Nontraditional Students and Information Technology: The Siren Call of the Virtual Classroom and its Impact on Progressive Educational Ideals
Chapter 8
Jakko van der Pol
This chapter aims to perform a thorough analysis of students’ online learning conversations. Although offering a high potential for collaborative... Sample PDF
Online Learning Conversations: Potential, Challenges and Facilitation
Chapter 9
Laura M. Nicosia
Contemporary educators have been reassessing pedagogical frameworks and reevaluating accepted epistemologies and ontologies of learning. The age-old... Sample PDF
Virtual Constructivism: Avatars in Action
Chapter 10
G. Andrew Page, Radwan Ali
The key idea that sets constructivism apart from other theories of cognition was launched about 60 years ago by Jean Piaget. It was the idea that... Sample PDF
The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools
Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
This chapter examines some ways information technologies (IT) are deployed in higher education courses to help learners create robust mental models.... Sample PDF
IT-Enabled Strategies for Mental Modeling in E-Learning
Chapter 12
Roisin Donnelly
This chapter critically explores the design and implementation of a blended problem-based learning (PBL) module for academic professional... Sample PDF
Transformative Potential of Constructivist Blended Problem-Based Learning in Higher Education
Chapter 13
James G.R. Cronin, John Paul McMahon, Michael Waldron
Reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners within a “blended” learning environment needs to be articulated within a... Sample PDF
Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms
Chapter 14
M. Beatrice Ligorio, Nadia Sansone
In this chapter, the case of a blended university course will be described in detail. The main focus of this description will be on how some... Sample PDF
Structure of a Blended University Course: Applying Constructivist Principles to Blended Teaching
Chapter 15
Hwee Ling Lim, Fay Sudweeks
As educators utilize an increasingly wide range of technologies for facilitating interaction between distant learning parties, there are concerns... Sample PDF
Constructivism and Online Collaborative Group Learning in Higher Education: A Case Study
Chapter 16
Linda Lohr, Nicholas Eastham, David Kendrick
This case study describes how a constructivist theory of learning guided the design of distributed learning environment for a three credit hour... Sample PDF
Constructivist Strategies to Optimize Four Levels of Interaction in a Distributed Learning Environment: A Case Study
Chapter 17
Alessio Gaspar, Sarah Langevin, Naomi Boyer
This chapter discusses a case study of the application of technology to facilitate undergraduate students’ learning of computer programming in an... Sample PDF
Facilitating Students-Driven Learning of Computer Programming with Technology
Chapter 18
John Miller
A central component of constructivist pedagogy at the college level is the modeling and practicing of critical thinking, and since Socrates... Sample PDF
Designing Asynchronous Discussions to Teach Critical Thinking
Chapter 19
Mark H. Schulman
The challenges for Goddard College posed by 21st Century information technologies are their incorporation into, and reflection of, the foundational... Sample PDF
"To Be in Occasional Touch": Goddard College's Progressive Principles and Distributed Learning
Chapter 20
Carol R. Rinke, Divonna M. Stebick, Lauren Schaefer, M. Evan Gaffney
This chapter presents a critical case study on the use of information technology in a pre-service teacher education program. The authors integrated... Sample PDF
Using Blogs to Foster Inquiry, Collaboration, and Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education
Chapter 21
Michal Zellermayer, Nili Mor, Ida Heilweil
This chapter describes the learning environment that the authors created for veteran teachers, graduate students in Teaching and Learning who are... Sample PDF
The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment
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