The Hybrid Course: Facilitating Learning through Social Interaction Technologies

The Hybrid Course: Facilitating Learning through Social Interaction Technologies

Lorraine D. Jackson, Joe Grimes
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-368-5.ch020
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This chapter surveys the benefits and challenges of hybrid courses, which blend face-to-face instruction with online learning, and opportunities provided by the introduction of web-based social interaction technologies. It discusses the pedagogical implications of various Web 2.0 tools; that is, asynchronous discussion boards, blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, e-portfolios, folksonomies, educational gaming, data mashups, and simulations. The authors argue that as hybrid courses continue to evolve to meet the needs of students, instructors, and institutions of higher learning, the integration of Web 2.0 applications in a hybrid model requires thoughtful course design, clear educational objectives, and carefully planned activities.
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As recently as the mid 1990’s, most students did not own a personal computer, used single function technologies (e.g., phone, camera, video player), and had irregular access to the Internet. Today’s students typically own computers, have multi-function mobile technologies, and use the Internet on a daily basis (McGee & Diaz, 2007).

The technological environment continues to change for faculty as well. During the 1990’s the “technology” in the classroom originally consisted of chalkboards, overhead transparency projectors and VCRs. Classroom Internet access was not common. Additionally, faculty may or may not have had access to email from home, and if they did, dial-up service made home use of the Internet slow and sometimes unreliable. Today, more classrooms are equipped with various types of technology including Internet access, integrated projectors for computers and DVDs, audio and video devices for distance learning, and document cameras, to name a few. Typically, faculty members have home access to campus computing resources using improved broadband connections. Learning management systems, sometimes called course management systems, are becoming more commonplace and are enabling communications, learning materials, assignments, and grading to occur online.

Although face-to-face lecturing is still a mainstay of many professors’ teaching repertoire, emerging technology is shifting the methods used by faculty (Maloney, 2007). Educators are no longer solely lecturers, but are increasingly becoming designers and facilitators of learning environments. Along with changes in technology, advancements in learning theory also play a role in this paradigm shift. Educators are now advised to incorporate more constructivist pedagogy in which active learning is accomplished (Rovai, 2007). Instead of focusing exclusively on the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student, educators are encouraged to find ways to motivate and involve students in the discovery and even the creation of knowledge. The expected outcomes of effective teaching are also changing. As educators move from a teaching-centered to a learning-centered model, student recall of information is not necessarily the preferred outcome. Student understanding, integration, and application become salient desirable outcomes. Indeed, changes in technology and learning theory are having an impact on how contemporary educators approach instruction. Many educators are beginning to teach in ways that differ from how they were taught when they were students (Hartman, Dziuban, & Brophy-Ellison, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Podcast: A method of publishing digital media files for transfer to and playback on a computer or a portable media player.

Blog: Short for weblog, a blog provides the capability for the user(s) to post information about a particular topic or to maintain a diary with entries typically posted in reverse chronological order.

Folksonomy: Also known as collaborative tagging and social classification, folksonomies make it possible to categorize and annotate content using tags (keywords) and to provide the capabilities to associate tags with individuals.

Web 2.0: An improvement in the application of the web infrastructure to support communities on the web and deliver services such as wikis, blogs, folksonomies, and other social interaction technologies.

Wiki: Software that provides the infrastructure for faculty and/or students to collaboratively develop and link Internet web pages. Each wiki has its unique characteristics, but most have tracking of individual effort and recovery of past versions.

Electronic Portfolios or E-Portfolios: An integrated collection of web-based multimedia documents that may include curriculum standards, course assignments and corresponding student artifacts, and reviewer feedback to the student’s work.

Asynchronous Discussion Board: An online bulletin board where users may post and respond to messages in forums which are specific topic areas for discussion. Subordinate discussions within a forum are often called threads. Since users do not have to be online at the same time, they can enter the discussion board according to their own schedules.

Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE): A virtual environment that enables simultaneous participants to represent themselves with avatars, interact with other participants and digital artifacts, and practice building skills or solving problems that have applications in real world contexts.

Avatar: A computer user’s one, two or three-dimensional representation of himself or herself in a virtual space (See Multi-User Virtual Environment).

Learning Management System (LMS): A software application or web-based technology used to develop, implement, and evaluate student-learning activities. Examples of Learning Management Systems include Blackboard®, Webboard®, or WebCT®.

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