Implementing Collaborative Problem-Based Learning with Web 2.0

Implementing Collaborative Problem-Based Learning with Web 2.0

Steven C. Mills (The University Center of Southern Oklahoma, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-120-9.ch024
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Educators face the challenge of keeping classroom learning relevant for a generation of students who have never known life without computers, cell phones, and email. With Web 2.0 technologies educators can easily mediate student-centered learning experiences that engage students collaboratively in problem-solving and critical thinking. This chapter describes how Web 2.0 technologies can supply communication tools and information resources that facilitate the application of a robust set of instructional methodologies in the K-12 classroom. When the pedagogical features of Web 2.0 technologies are used with problem-solving methodologies, teachers can create powerful student-centered learning experiences for educating students for the 21st century.
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An 8th grade science teacher, Ms. S, retrieves her MP3 player from the computer-connected cradle where it’s spent the night scanning the 17 podcasts she subscribes to. Having detected three new programs, the computer downloaded the files and copied them to the handheld. En route to work, Ms. S inserts the device into her dash-mounted cradle and reviews the podcasts, selecting a colleague’s classroom presentation on global warming and a NASA conference lecture about interstellar space travel…

Meanwhile, social studies teacher Ms. L scans through sites tagged genetics in the school’s social bookmark service. Her students may need quick access to them as they discuss genetic engineering current events during class… All assignments in Ms. L’s class are turned in via blogs because she finds that their conversational nature encourages students to think and write in more depth than traditional formal essays or short answer assignments. Another advantage of receiving assignments in blog format is that both she and her students can subscribe, which means all of the students’ blogs appear in her aggregator, and students can reap the benefits of seeing each other’s work.

A few doors down the hall, veteran English teacher, Mr. P, is reviewing a new batch of student wikis. In an effort to help the students become better communicators, he never provides study guides for tests, instead relying on students to construct their own study resources using their team wikis. He rewards teams that create the most useful/popular study guides. Mr. P uses a wiki tool installed on the school’s network…

From A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 by David Warlick

Over the past decade and a half since the creation of the Internet and the World Wide Web the use of information technology has significantly increased in K-12 classrooms. As the Web continues to evolve, new Internet and Web technologies become facts of life for today’s students. And as David Warlick (2006) indicates in A Day in the Life of Web 2.0, teachers are using Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 classrooms because it is compatible with the technology many students use on a daily basis through popular websites such as MySpace, Wikipedia and Flikr.

According to Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life project, “an American teen is more likely than her parents to own a digital music player like an iPod, to have posted writing, pictures or video on the Internet, to have created a blog or profile on a social networking website like MySpace, to have downloaded digital content such as songs, games, movies, or software, to have shared a remix or ‘mashup’ creation with friends, and to have snapped a photo or video with a cell phone.” (Rainie, 2006). Because of this daily high-level interaction that youth have with technology, educators face the challenge of keeping classroom learning relevant for a generation of students who have never known life without computers, cell phones, and email. Baird and Fisher (2005-2006) note that “neomillennial students expect interactive, engaging content and course material that motivates them to learn through challenging pedagogy.” Thus, the bar has been raised seemingly beyond the technological expertise of many educators for providing learning experiences that keep today’s students interested and engaged.

The good news for educators is that the latest expression of the World Wide Web, known as Web 2.0, provides online information resources and communication technologies that are easier to use and simpler to implement, requiring far less technological expertise than the preceding generation of Internet applications. With Web 2.0 it is far easier for educators to mediate student-centered learning experiences utilizing the pedagogical features of these new technologies. For example, the social networking capabilities of Web 2.0 familiar to most students can promote student engagement in learning because students actively participate in constructing a learning landscape based on social interactions and information exchanges with peers (Baird & Fisher, 2005-2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web 2.0: A term used to identify Web technologies that harness collective intelligence, provide interfaces and services across multiple devices, and enhance collaboration. Examples of Web 2.0 applications, services, and technologies are blogs, podcasts, social bookmarking, social networking, Web feeds, and wikis. Although the designation, Web 2.0, suggests a new version or generation of the World Wide Web, in reality it refers to a re-visioning of the Web.

Podcast: An audio mini-program in MP3 format that is broadcast over the Internet. Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to on any MP3-compatible digital music player such as Apple’s iPod. Users can either download a podcast once or subscribe to an RSS service for regular or periodic downloads. Podcasts can also be downloaded to a computer using podcasting applications.

Folksonomic Tagging: The practice of collaboratively creating and managing classifications or categorizations of content or data by the creators and consumers of the content instead of using traditional indexing schemes that are created by subject-matter experts. Thus, a folksonomy is a user generated taxonomy. Folksonomies arise when existing content such as websites, books, scholarly works, blog entries, pictures or videos are collaboratively tagged. Folksonomic tagging is intended to make information easy to search and navigate because it uses a shared vocabulary that is originated by its primary users.

Problem-Based Learning: Also known as project-based learning, PBL is an instructional methodology that helps students construct an individual understanding of a problem and then develop and present a solution. With PBL the teacher guides students through a problem-solving process. Students first reason through the problem and apply knowledge they already have to the problem and then students research and acquire information about the problem and reach possible solutions. PBL generally situates learning in real-world problems and allows students to develop solutions through collaborative processes.

Social Bookmarking: A Web 2.0 service for storing, describing, and sharing bookmarked Web pages online, which allows access to the bookmarks and additions to the bookmarks from any computer connected to the Internet. Users register with the social bookmarking service and create their own account comprised of annotated and tagged navigation links (URLs). The social bookmarking service usually permits the bookmarks to be annotated with a line of text describing the link and then tagged with one or more keywords or descriptors to help organize and remember the bookmark. A widely used social bookmarking site is ( )

RSS Feeds: Also known as news feeds or Web feeds, RSS feeds are the actual content items that are published on Web pages and generated by RSS. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication and is a Web 2.0 technology used for the syndication of content from Web pages. RSS allows users to subscribe and receive the RSS feeds and view the content without visiting the original website. With RSS, content from Web pages comes to the user rather than user going to get the content.

Blog: Short for Web log, a blog is a Web 2.0 technology that allows authors to quickly and easily publish (or post) content similar to that of a diary or journal on the Web. Blogs consist of regular or periodic entries of text commentary or other material such as graphics or video that are displayed in reverse chronological order. Some blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject while others function as more personal online diaries. Blog entries are often short and frequently updated. Blogs are organized much like conventional Web pages and may include text, graphics, and navigation links. Each new blog entry starts a thread for subsequent comments made by persons reading the blog entry.

Wiki: A website that permits collaborative editing of a document on the Web. A wiki is a collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. When a revision to the content takes place, the revised version becomes the current version and an older version is archived. A wiki is different from a blog because the content of the Web page can be edited by its readers while blog content is written and posted by one person and then everyone else reads it and makes comments. One of the best known wikis is Wikipedia, a collaborative, online encyclopedia.

Social Networking: A Web-based information-sharing service that allows individuals to construct a profile within a restricted system, delineate the users with whom they want to share a connection, and view and navigate a list of connections and those made by others within the system. The primary feature of social network sites is that users are enabled to publicly declare their social networks. Myspace ( ) is the most popular example of a social network.

Collaborative Learning: A variety of instructional approaches that involve shared intellectual efforts by peers and/or experts. Collaborative learning generates dialog and interaction among peers or communities of peers and experts for the purpose of constructing collective knowledge or shared understanding about a concept, case, or problem. Peers work in groups of two or more to search for a mutual understanding, solution, or meaning and to create a product based on their shared learning experience.

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