Considering Students’ Perspectives on Personal and Distributed Learning Environments in Course Design

Considering Students’ Perspectives on Personal and Distributed Learning Environments in Course Design

Terje Väljataga (Tampere University of Technology, Finland & Tallinn University, Estonia), Kai Pata (Tallinn University, Estonia) and Kairit Tammets (Tallinn University, Estonia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-294-7.ch005

Abstract

This chapter presents the findings from an experimental postgraduate student-centered course using social media tools and services to support learning. The main aim of this research was to evaluate a course design that was heavily supported by social media. The main aspects of this course design were that students were granted the freedom to select social media tools and services and use them in a personalized way, construct personal and distributed learning spaces, and visualize their conceptual understanding of these environments and their activities. Students’ perceptions of the social media they used was used to evaluate the overall course design. Their perception of the affordances of social media are presented by noting conceptual changes in how they represented the structure of their personal and distributed environments, and by how they rated their learning experience with social media. This chapter concludes with the most important aspects of course design that need to be taken into account in higher education learning environments seeking to integrate Web 2.0 tools.
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Using Web 2.0 Tools In Education

From an educational point of view, emerging web technologies present new challenges and requirements for both educators and students. Although most new technologies are not designed specifically for educational purposes, educators must be aware (and raise their students’ awareness) of current web-based tools, services, and resources.

New technologies are causing many educators to rethink pedagogy and current learning and teaching models. Some, drawing from the term Web 2.0, have labeled new educational innovations “E-learning 2.0” (Downes, 2005). Zimmerman (2000) suggests that e-learning with social media tools and services can be seen as a promising approach to establishing an innovative learning and teaching culture that helps students cope with the changing knowledge environment and learning requirements. Thus, higher education institutions are facing the situation where the use of new technologies simultaneously creates conditions for introducing new teaching practices on the one hand, and on the other hand, revising current pedagogical approaches.

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