Placing the Framework within the Educational Context

Placing the Framework within the Educational Context

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8705-9.ch001
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This chapter introduces the reader to Part I of the book, describing the educational framework where the core ideas of the book best fit. The appropriate background and fundamental concepts are epitomized, in order to surface the space where the educational needs are placed. In this way, the comprehension of the role of the emerging technologies and the way they could meet such needs, supporting educational innovation, is facilitated.
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The Generic Space

The extraordinary development of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education has influenced the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to adopt online learning solutions/environments. Universities and educators are challenged to provide quality in online learning environments (OLEs), since different teaching and learning paradigms are emerging and, in general, students are more open in taking online courses. In fact, the past decade has witnessed enormous growth in the use of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in HEIs, providing the potential for rich learning environments built on social constructivist theories under the concepts of collaborative (c-)learning, blended (b-)learning and sustainable learning communities. However, the importance of educational frameworks that support the teaching-learning processes in the digital age seems to be modestly examined in academic research communities. Hewitt (2004) explores the concept of knowledge building community and defines it as a type of community of practice that integrates the following characteristics:

  • Sharing of knowledge, values and beliefs;

  • Adoption of common points of coexistence among members;

  • Experiencing of mutual interdependence;

  • Development of mechanisms for reproduction;

  • Realization of common practices;

  • Fostering of opportunities for interaction and participation;

  • Supporting of significant personal relationships; and

  • Respect for different perspectives and minorities.

In general, the knowledge society demands competencies and skills that require innovative educational practices based on being open to share ideas and evaluate them, fostering creativity and teamwork (collaboration) among the learners. The vast number of tools supporting collaboration on the Web is an indicator that social software tools are not only a flash in the pan, but lead to a new conceptualization of learning and a way to measure sustainable competence development. Towards such endeavor, ideas, such as semantic analysis of learning activities, tagging opportunities with a focus on appropriateness for learning, visualization of communities and people with similar (learning) interests, new approaches to content and network analysis, and a technical integration of different LMS, should be considered. These ideas clearly comply with the emerging concept of semantic Web 3.0 (Lukasiewicz & Straccia, 2008). The latter is all about connecting data, from a holistic point of view, resorting to massive graph databases that can be read and conceptually understood by computers. Currently, most Web pages are designed to be read by people, not machines. Nevertheless, when linked, graph-based data become machine-readable; hence, computers could be able to answer increasingly sophisticated questions for the user-to interpret data, understand context, infer meaning and do reasoning.

In this context, the teaching-learning process should be seen as a complex and constantly dynamic reality (Peters, 2001; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004; Bates, 2005) that could be supported by ICT-based techno-pedagogical models that include representations, visions, skills, resources, attitudes and practices of their social actors, all placed under the concept of the semantic Web 3.0. In fact, the combination of traditional face-to-face (F2F) and online learning, within the context of b-learning, offers different delivery methodologies/modes that have the potential to optimize the learning development, deployment costs and time (Oliver & Trigwell, 2005). In parallel, education paradigms shifted to incorporate online collaborative learning environments (Johnson et al., 2013). Actually, collaborative learning can assist students to feel more interactive and also exerts a positive influence in terms of motivation, behavior and self-determination, as well as engagement in learning activities (Reeve & Tseng, 2011; Wijnia et al., 2011).

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