Mode Neutral: The Pedagogy that Bridges Web 2.0 and e-Learning 2.0

Mode Neutral: The Pedagogy that Bridges Web 2.0 and e-Learning 2.0

Brian Smith (Edge Hill University, UK) and Peter Reed (Edge Hill University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch410
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This chapter details the authors’ evidence-based pedagogical model – Mode Neutral – showing how contemporary education can promote the use of Web 2.0 tools to harness collective intelligence. They will outline our case study of using (arguably) a Web 1.0 technology, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as the single learning space, with Web 2.0 tools integrated to encourage collaborative learning.
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For many of us, there is little doubt that contemporary education has evolved over the last decade or so. Those changes have been brought about due to two reasons: the global investment into technologies that make up our digital society, and pedagogues using technology to enrich the learning experience. As technology continues to surpass itself, a plethora of Internet offsprings become available such as Moodle (Managed Learning Environment), Facebook® and MySpace® (Social Networking tools). To appreciate the ‘value-added’ of using technology in future education, it is worth considering how it became part of the pedagogues’ toolkit. One could argue the starting point of the digital revolution happened when the Internet became commercially available in the early 1990’s. Others might argue the digital revolution is a by-product of the 2nd phase of the Web, a time where anybody can publish material online. What is more difficult to establish is the early adoption of technology within education.

The term ‘technology in education’ is a subjective term based on how the teacher views technology within their learning and teaching principles. One pedagogue might see the use of a 35mm slide projector as ‘technology in education’ as opposed to another who might embrace Second Life® to host educational sessions in a 3D gaming world.

Moreover, the latest Web 2.0 tools can offer further enhancement of the learners’ experience when deployed within sound learning and teaching principles. To achieve this we should be compliant with their purpose and form before considering their application to the learning experience. That is, do we really understand what they are, how to use them, and the benefits they bring to education? Furthermore, we should consider the nature of the learners, alongside the purpose and the form of technological implementation.

The driving forces behind our work stems from emerging issues within Higher Education, and as such has been three-fold:

  • ❑ ‘Top down’ pressures to recruit more students from different areas, are greater than ever before, as competition for student numbers continues to increase.

  • ❑ ‘Bottom up’ forces have considered the student and their experiences of education, with a clear aim to increase flexibility, and develop ownership through personalised learning. We share the opinions of Landsberger (2004, p8), who reminds us that we must acknowledge the individuality of learners, and tailor learning activities to their personal needs.

  • ❑ External pressures from employers who expect their staff to possess critical skills to allow them to critically reflect in order to make decisions and work effectively. This is opposed to traditional 'rote learning' whereby graduates may be able to recite a textbook of definitions, however incapable of responding to the needs and challenges they face within day-to-day activities. In other words, employers want graduates who are knowledge able, rather than knowledgeable.

With this in mind, our work accentuates learners’ social participation in constructing knowledge and understanding, and has led to the development of a new pedagogy – 'Mode Neutral' – that responds to the driving forces mentioned (above), and applicable for learning either in traditional or online formats.

This chapter will:

  • 1.

    Raise issues surrounding the terminology used in contemporary education.

  • 2.

    Emphasise the role of technology in harnessing collective intelligence.

  • 3.

    Introduce the key concepts of Mode Neutral Pedagogy, including a Model for Learning and Teaching

  • 4.

    Share a Mode Neutral Case Study supported with research evidence

  • 5.

    Discuss future trends within education

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