Personal Knowledge Management Skills in Web 2.0-Based Learning

Personal Knowledge Management Skills in Web 2.0-Based Learning

Maria Elisabetta Cigognini (University of Florence, Italy), Maria Chiara Pettenati (University of Florence, Italy) and Palitha Edirisingha (University of Leicester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch505

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The traditional approaches to e-learning in tertiary education have so far been dominated by the use of virtual learning environments (VLEs), with teaching and learning structured around courses, timetables, and assessments. This approach has been criticized as being mainly driven by the needs of the institution rather than by those of the learner (Wallace, 1999; EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2006). Recent developments in web-based technologies offer new opportunities to experiment with e-learning, where formal and informal activities merge and spaces for knowledge management can be created—all drawing on people and their ability to network and learn naturally and informally (McFedries, 2007). Learning is seen as the integration of formal, informal, and non-formal activities occurring in both online and real-world contexts.

The development of “Web 2.0” (O’Reilly, 2005; see also McFedries, 2005) services and technologies is paving the way for a new era of e-learning. Downes (2005) has coined the term “E-learning 2.0” to refer to these new developments, and to describe the increasing use of Web 2.0 tools in e-learning, along with other emerging trends. E-learning 2.0 involves digital learning spaces in which students create content, collaborate with peers to form learning networks for knowledge sharing and exchange, and engage in activities that take advantage of multiple sources of aggregated content, immersing themselves in rich learning experiences that utilize various tools including but not limited to online references, courseware, knowledge management applications, collaborative and search tools. Many innovative Web 2.0 activities are beginning to emerge as e-learning practices evolve and change (Alexander, 2006).

This chapter deals with one aspect of new and emerging e-learning practices, highlighting the need for learners to develop a set of personal knowledge management (PKM) skills (Frand & Hixon, 1999; Avery, Brooks, Brown, Dorsey, & O’Connor, 2000; Barth, 2005; Dorsey, 2001; Wright, 2005; Grey, 2006; Pollard, 2005) in order to perform successfully in the Web 2.0 environment and knowledge society. Learning to use any new technology effectively necessitates acquiring a set of abilities and skills, but in order to help tertiary students fully benefit from the developments in Web 2.0-based tools and services, there is a need to devise strategies to assist them in developing particular skills in the use and application of these digital tools to achieve their own learning outcomes. In this chapter, the authors define such a core set of skills as PKM skills. They also propose an instructional approach to developing resources that support the development of these skills among learners. The chapter provides a list of PKM skills, divided into basic and higher-order PKM skills. It also offers a learning design model conceived to support the acquisition of both types of PKM skills, together with guidelines and scenarios to demonstrate the application of the model.

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