Faculty Use and Perceptions of Web 2.0 in Higher Education

Faculty Use and Perceptions of Web 2.0 in Higher Education

Richard Hartshorne, Haya Ajjan, Richard E. Ferdig
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-788-1.ch015
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In this chapter, the authors provide evidence for the potential of various Web 2.0 applications in higher education through a review of relevant literature on both emerging educational technologies and social networking. Additionally, the authors report the results and implications of a study exploring faculty awareness of the potential of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, social bookmarks, social networks, instant messaging, internet telephony, and audio/video conferencing) to support and supplement classroom instruction in higher education. Also, using the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behavior as the theoretical foundation, the authors discuss factors that influence faculty decisions to adopt specific Web 2.0 technologies. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of the study and recommendations for future research.
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In recent years, the design and delivery of courses in colleges and universities has been significantly influenced by the immersion of technology into numerous facets of society. For example, the emergence of technologies such as e-mail and learning management systems has resulted in new ways in which content is accessed, shared, and delivered throughout a traditional course (Barnett, Keating, Harwook, & Saam, 2004). More recently, Web 2.0 applications have emerged with the potential to further enhance the teaching and learning environment in higher education. Contrary to past models of using Internet technologies as a method of accessing course-related information, students can now use various Internet technologies to connect and share with others. Rather than being passive recipients of content and information, students can become actively involved with accessing and connecting information from multiple sources and creating new, sharable knowledge through social interactions (Maloney, 2007).

Are these Web 2.0 technologies beneficial to learning? A number of recent publications have cited ways in which Web 2.0 applications enhance teaching and learning (Alexander, 2006; Franklin & Van Harmelen, 2007). From the current body of research related to the use of Web 2.0 in teaching and learning, we do know that these technologies have many affordances to improve teaching and learning. These affordances include the ability to support scaffolding and active learner participation, provide opportunities for student publication, feedback, and reflection, and the potential for development of a community of learners (Ferdig, 2007). However, while students today are immersed in a culture of cell phones, text messaging, YouTube, wikis, social networks, and other Web 2.0 applications, many faculty still have not made the switch to these emerging technologies and often use course websites and e-mail as their predominant means of connecting with their students (Maloney, 2007). Are faculty members missing out on the opportunity to improve student achievement and better connect with their students by not utilizing the Web 2.0 tools available today? What are faculty perceptions of the role and benefits of Web 2.0 technologies to supplement teaching and learning?

The purpose of this chapter is to assess faculty awareness of the potential of Web 2.0 technologies to supplement classroom learning and to assess faculty adoption of such technologies using the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behavior as the theoretical foundation (Taylor & Todd, 1995). In this chapter, the authors will report about the evidence for the potential of Web 2.0 applications in higher education by providing a review of the relevant literature from the fields of educational technology and learning theory, focusing on the pedagogical potential of Web 2.0 applications in higher education. Additionally, this chapter will discuss the results of a study assessing faculty awareness of the pedagogical benefits of Web 2.0 tools and factors that influence faculty decisions to adopt these tools. This discussion will include a brief overview of the theoretical framework (Decomposed Theory of Planned Behavior), methodology, data analysis and key findings of the study, implications of study results, as well as recommendations to faculty and university administrators concerning the use of Web 2.0 in higher education.

We are just now at the cusp of researching the potential of Web 2.0 to improve the teaching and learning in higher education. This chapter reports on some of the early research of Web 2.0 in higher education, the results of some emerging research on Web 2.0 applications in higher education, and is a call to further investigate the use of Web 2.0 applications in higher education, both today and in the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Attitude: The degree to which an individual favors a particular behavior (Ajzen, 1991).

Social Networks: A web-based application that focuses on creating communities of individuals with shared interests, providing numerous methods of interaction between network participants. Popular social networks include Facebook, Friendster, Orkut, and MySpace.

Behavioral Intention: A user’s readiness to carry out a particular behavior (Ajzen, 1991).

Wiki: A web-based application that allows multiple users to create and edit content, which can include text, hypertext, audio, video, and more. Popular wiki tools and applications include SeedWiki, Wikipedia, and WetPaint.

Social Bookmarks: A web-based application which allows users to search, store, rate, manage, and share websites and website collections. Popular social bookmarking applications include Delicious, Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

Instant Messaging: A web-enabled text-based form of synchronous communication between two or more people. Popular Instant Messaging applications include Windows Live Messenger, Tencent QQ, Jabber, and AOL Instant Messenger.

Internet Telephony: Also known as voiceover IP (VOIP), Internet telephony allows for synchronous audio or video communications between two or more people utilizing the Internet. Popular VOIP applications include Skype, NetMeeting, and CoolTalk.

Subjective norm: The perceived expectations from others that influence a user to perform a particular behavior (Ajzen, 1991).

Blog: A contraction of the term “web log”; a blog is a website maintained by an individual and may include regular posts, picture and other media, RSS feeds, and commentary from guests or visitors to the blog. Popular blogging tools include WordPress, Blogger, and LiveJournal.

Perceived behavioral control: A user’s perceptions of the availability of required resources and opportunities to perform a particular behavior (Ajzen, 1991).

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