Applying Web 2.0 Tools in Hybrid Learning Designs

Applying Web 2.0 Tools in Hybrid Learning Designs

Mark J.W. Lee, Catherine McLoughlin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-380-7.ch023
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This chapter explores how educators can harness the potential of a new wave of social software to respond to the challenges of tertiary education in the new millennium, by combining the interactivity and immediacy of face-to-face instruction with the openness, connectivity, and flexibility afforded by the new tools and technologies. It also argues for a new conceptualization of “hybrid” or “blended” learning in the Web 2.0 era, and presents a number of exemplars of Web 2.0-based hybrid learning that typify the emergence of a new pedagogy for the digital age. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of the issues, barriers, and dilemmas that exist in implementing an effective hybrid approach to learning within a formal education setting.
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Dimensions Of Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning sometimes refers to approaches to teaching that require students to meet for face-to face-classes while much of the course content and interaction is provided online. Some authors distinguish between “supplemented” e-learning, in which online supplementary materials are provided to augment traditional face-to-face delivery, and truly “blended” e-learning, in which a significant proportion of learning activities are carried out on the Internet. In other cases, hybrid or blended programs refer to programs of study that provide students with an option of taking some courses fully online and some in face-to-face classes (known at some institutions as “mixed mode”) (Williams, 2002). This technology-driven approach is not accepted by Bleed (2001), who argues that simply bolting on technology is not a sufficient condition for effective blended learning. Instead, he and other researchers would argue that effective hybrid learning design brings together sound classroom and online methodologies and is based on student-centered instruction (i.e. follows a learner-centered approach), effective and timely teacher intervention, peer-to-peer interaction, and the provision of multiple learning resources in a highly interactive learning context (Garrison, Kanuka, & Hawes, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inquiry-Based Learning: A term used to describe a range of instructional strategies based on premises that are centered around the need for learners to ask questions, then actively seek out answers to those questions. It is commonly used in the teaching of science. The teacher takes on the role of a “facilitator” who supports learners rather than simply giving them the answers, encouraging them to take responsibility for their learning through active exploration, discovery, and reflection.

Flexible Learning: A broad term used to describe the design and delivery of programs, courses, and learning interventions in such a way as to cater for student demands for variety, access, recognition of diverse learning styles, and student control over and customizability of the learning experience. It is often incorrectly used in an interchangeable manner with other terms such as “open learning,” “distance learning,” “work-based learning,” as well as “e-learning,” which are all instances or forms of flexible learning in that they provide flexibility to the student in terms of time/pace, place, access, content, and/or delivery mode.

Authentic Learning: Learning that encourages learners to engage in real-world problems and projects that are meaningful and interesting to them, and that have relevance beyond the classroom.

RSS (really simple syndication): A technology originally designed to facilitate the publication of text summaries of additions to frequently-updated Web sites, such as news sites and Web logs. The user subscribes to the feed(s) of one or more RSS-enabled Web sites by configuring a news reader or aggregator program installed on his/her computer with the URL(s) of the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) file(s) that comprise the feed. The program periodically checks the feed for new content and downloads it as it becomes available. RSS 2.0 feeds permit the inclusion of enclosures, which permit multimedia files (such as MP3 files in the case of podcasting) to be referenced in the feed.

CMS (Course Management System): An integrated suite of software tools designed to manage courses or other learning interventions. Commercial examples are Blackboard and WebCT, although many open source alternatives, such as Moodle and Sakai, exist. In addition to the provision of online learning content and activities and the facilitation of online assessment, CMS’s typically support a range of administrative functions including learner enrollment, workflow, records management, and resource management.

Pedagogy 2.0: Digital tools and affordances, especially those emanating from the Web 2.0 movement, call for a new conceptualization of teaching and learning that is focused on participation in communities and networks for learning, personalization of learning tasks, and production of ideas and knowledge. Pedagogy 2.0 is a response to this call. It represents a set of approaches and strategies that differs from teaching as a didactic practice of passing on information; instead, it advocates a model of learning in which students are empowered to participate, communicate, and create knowledge, exercising a high level of agency and control over the entire learning process. See also Web 2.0.

Web Log: Blogs (short for “Web logs”) are Web sites that were originally intended to allow individuals to maintain their own personal journals or diaries and make them available for public viewing on the Internet. Blogs are typically easy to use and adopt an informal, journal-entry style, making them much more convenient to update and add to than traditional Web sites. They are an example of a social software application that typifies Web 2.0, including the rise of user-generated content and personal publishing. Blogging can also be an intensely social activity, as most blog platforms allow for contributions to be made by multiple users; furthermore, bloggers with similar interests often engage in dialogue on one another’s sites and create connections among themselves to form worldwide social networks. See also Web 2.0, social software, social networking, personal publishing, user-generated content.

Podcast: A portmanteau that combines the words “iPod” (the name of Apple’s popular music player) and “broadcast.” Refers to the distribution of digital audio files, typically in MPEG Layer 3 (MP3) format, through a syndication protocol such as RSS. The user subscribes to one or more feeds or channels of his/her choice using a podcast aggregation program, which periodically polls the feeds for new audio files and downloads them automatically to the user’s hard disk as they become available. See also RSS.

Web 2.0: A term used to describe an apparent second generation or improved form of the World Wide Web that emphasizes collaboration and sharing of knowledge and content among users. Characteristic of Web 2.0 are the socially-based tools and systems referred to collectively as social software. See also social software.

Social Software: The most common modern usage of this term is to refer to the software tools and applications of the Web 2.0 movement that support group interaction, communication, and collaboration, including but not limited to Web logs (blogs), wikis, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and podcasting feeds, peer-to-peer (P2P) media sharing applications, and social bookmarking utilities. However, some argue that the Internet has in fact always comprised a network of individuals connected through social technologies like e-mail, chat rooms, and discussion boards (now referred to as the “Web 1.0” technologies). See also Web 2.0, social networking.

Personal Publishing: A process in which an individual actively produces his/her own content and information and publishes it on the World Wide Web for others to see and/or use. For example, the maintenance of a personal Web log (blog) as an online diary is an instance of personal publishing. See also user-generated content, Web log, Web 2.0.

Micro-Content: Very small, basic units of digital content or media that can be consumed in unbundled micro-chunks, and aggregated and reconstructed in various ways. Micro-content often forms the basis of micro-learning. See also mash-up.

Prosumer: A portmanteau formed by contracting word “producer” with the word “consumer,” signifying the blurring of the distinction between the two roles in today’s knowledge economy.

Architecture of Participation: A term used to describe the nature of innovation in the open source movement, whereby individuals can share, create, and amend software, thereby participating in the creation of improved forms of software. This can help turn a good idea or piece of software into a best-quality product as many users and developers can adapt, change, and improve it.

Informal Learning: Refers to learning that does not take place in formal education and training environments, but instead occurs as a result of everyday life and professional practice, e.g., at home, work, and throughout society. It has no defined curriculum and is not planned or pedagogically conscious. Many researchers and theorists have suggested that informal learning accounts for up to 75% of our learning. See also lifelong learning.

Student-Generated Content: Content that is produced by students, often for sharing with peers and/or a wider audience on the Internet, as distinct from instructor-supplied content such as course notes and textbooks. It is arguable that the main benefits to be gained from student-generated content lie in the processes of content creation and knowledge construction, as opposed to the end products themselves. See also user-generated content.

Social Networking: A social network is a social structure comprising various nodes, which generally represent individuals or organizations, that are tied together by one or more specific types of interdependency, e.g. common values, shared visions, exchange of ideas, mutual financial benefit, trade, friendship/kinship, or even dislike and conflict. In the context of the Web 2.0 movement, the term is commonly used to refer to Web sites like MySpace, Facebook, Ning, Friendster, and LinkedIn, which attract and support networks of people and facilitate connections between them for social and professional purposes. The “blogosphere” (a term used to describe the cultural and social milieu surrounding Web logging and its users) may also be viewed as an example of an online social network. See also Web 2.0, social software.

Problem-Based Learning: A form of authentic, inquiry-based learning in which students learn by working collaboratively in groups to solve problems, and reflecting on their experiences. The problems are typically challenging and open-ended, mirroring problems in the real world in that they are often ill-structured and do not result in neat, convergent outcomes. See also inquiry-based learning.

Collaborative Learning: An umbrella term for a variety of teaching and learning approaches that involve joint intellectual effort by learners, or by learners and teachers. Learners engage in a common task in which each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. Groups of learners work together in searching for understanding, meaning, or solutions, or in creating an artifact of their learning such as a particular product.

Supplemented E-Learning: A term used to describe an approach whereby supplementary materials are provided via a Web site to augment traditional, face-to-face delivery, but in which the learning activities themselves are largely not carried out online. See also blended e-learning.

Blended E-Learning: A learning delivery approach in which core learning activities are undertaken both via the Internet as well as in traditional, face-to-face settings, as distinct from the practice of simply supplementing face-to-face instruction with online resources and materials, e.g. through a course Web site. See also supplemented e-learning.

User-Generated Content: A term that refers to Web-based content created by ordinary users or members of the general public, e.g. pictures posted on Flickr, videos uploaded to YouTube, or encyclopedia entries written in Wikipedia. Such “Read-Write” applications are a key characteristic of the Web 2.0 movement, which encourages the publishing of one’s own content and commenting on or augmenting other people’s. It differs from the “Read Only” model of Web 1.0, in which Web sites were created and maintained by an elite few. See also personal publishing.

Blog: See Web log.

Collective Intelligence: A form of intelligence that results from the cooperation, collaboration, and/or competition of a large number of individuals. See also wisdom of crowds.

Lifelong Learning: A term that recognizes that learning is not confined to childhood and/or the classroom, but instead takes place continuously throughout life and in a range of contexts and situations, including formal, non-formal, and informal situations. See also informal learning.

Mash-up: Content or material that is collected from several Web-based sources, then modified, re-mixed, and/or re-combined to create a new formulation of the material. A mash-up is typically a digital media file including one or more the following: text, graphics, audio, video, and animation. Mash-ups are commonly seen in “Web 2.0” services and social software tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS and podcast feeds, media sharing sites (e.g. YouTube) and social networking sites (e.g. MySpace, Facebook). See also micro-content, Web 2.0, social software.

Wisdom of Crowds: A concept that relates to the aggregation of information in groups and communities of individuals. It recognizes that the innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities of the group are often superior to that of any single member of the group. The term was used as the title of a book written by James Surowiecki, published in 2004. See also collective intelligence.

Wiki: A Web site whose pages and content can be easily created and edited by users, within their Web browsers. An example of user-generated content that epitomizes the Web 2.0 movement and capitalizes on the “wisdom of crowds,” wikis operate on the principle of collaborative trust, as visitors are free not only to create new content as on a discussion board, but also to edit one another’s contributions. The name “wiki” is of Hawaiian origin, “wiki wiki” meaning “quick” or “informal,” a reference to the speed and ease with which wikis can be accessed and their content modified through any standard Web browser. The best-known wiki example is Wikipedia, a free content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers that has grown to become one of the most popular sites on the Internet. See also Web 2.0, social software, user-generated content, wisdom of crowds, collective intelligence.

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