So what is Networked Learning?

stUTCp31UTC10bUTCWed, 31 Oct 2007 15:12:50 +0000 13, 2007

ESSAY (WORD COUNT 1501)

Filed under: Uncategorized — melanie1987 @ 9:53p10

Web 2.0 is essentially an increasing range of software hat supports a variety of technologies for open and collaborative communication, learning and creativity. Discuss 

Students who sit in boring classes where their brains are screaming out for stimulation and dying from tedium will create their own stimuli. That’s when the spit balls will start flying, the bits of rubber will be flicked around the room, the notes will be passed and interference with other students will begin to occur. To harness this creativity and collaboration teachers need to get on board with the digital classroom and implement Web 2.0 applications. This new technology allows for a more open and collaborative classroom where communication, learning and creativity occur. This essay will explain the role and application of Web 2.0 in schools in accordance with behavioural and cognitive learning theories, plus explain how such technology allows for creative, learning community.  

Learning and teaching in the classroom is becoming increasingly easier due to the influx of many new technologies and a myriad of software. Web 2.0 is seen as the new and improved, second generation of internet usage; Web 1.0 is the first generation. No longer is web work based upon getting information form the web; now Web 2.0 is about constructing knowledge collaboratively on the web. Web 2.0 is engaging and active compared to the passive and un-engaging Web 1.0 applications- ideal for the digital classroom. Made possible through advancements in technology, Web 2.0 applications (Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Wiki’s, iGoogle, Flickr, RSS Feeds and YouTube. Etc) are effective teaching and pedagogical tools. These provide a platform for social networking through a medium that allows for sharing, informing, communicating and interacting.

Effective ICT use goes hand in hand with a deep understanding of learning theories and the various factors that make learning a unique experience for each individual. Web 2.0 technologies provide a useful set of tools for achieving cooperative and collaborative learning, and it recognises the value of encouraging learners to actively construct their own learning and meaning.  The way learners interact with ICT has changed over time (and is sure to continue), reflecting different learning theories in action. Early use of computer in the classroom tended to be restricted to drill and practice applications or word processing (WEB 1.0). Rapid developments in Internet and Web usages, and a relative improvement in teachers’ and students’ skill levels in using ICT applications, has resulted in an increase in creative and interactive, internet-based activities, web-page design and electronic publishing and podcasting. Each of these ICT uses has its merit, depending on the goals of the learning experience, and each is informed by current learning theories.

Web 2.0 plays a significant role in promoting cognitive learning principles in the classrooms. Cognitive theorists such as Piaget emphasised active problem solving and meaning-making on the part of the learner. Piaget and Vygotsky pointed out the importance of social interaction in learning. One of the key characteristics of Web 2.0 is collaboration, both between machine and user, and between several users. These applications have the capacity to function as ‘intellectual partners’ to promote critical thinking and higher order cognitive processing (Voithofer, 2007). Text, voice, music, graphics, photos, animation and video are combined to promote thinking and encourage learners to accomplish creative, higher-level tasks. They provide a range of resources for students to use in problem solving, thinking, reflecting and collaborating with others within physical classrooms and across the globe in virtual learning contexts.  It is also argued that Web 2.0 technologies, with their potential for interactivity, are more conducive to active and engage learning than more traditional-centred approaches. According to its advocates, the constructivist classroom that integrates Web 2.0 provides students with a ‘complex laboratory in which to observe, question, practise and validate knowledge’ (Dillon, 2004). In such classrooms, the emphasis is on learning with, not from or about, Web 2.0.

Collaboration among learners is another defining characteristic of constructivist classrooms (Jonassen, 1994). Web 2.0 has strong potential for social interactivity and for supporting collaboration and student-centred learning. For example, it is possible for virtual communities of learners on the internet to work in small collaborative groups to achieve a common goal; this is achieved through the implementation of a wiki. The heterogeneous grouping of learners around computer based tasks can assist in creating zones of proximal development and be beneficial for all students (Vygotsky, 1934). Such Web 2.0 technologies provide opportunities for students to build shared meaning (Dillon, 2004).

With its potential for addressing the needs of students on an individual basis, Web 2.0 can be particularly useful for catering to student’s individual learning styles, accordance with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983). Web 2.0 applications allow for a use of multiple multimedia- audio, visual and linguistics- all content based activities that allow students to perceive, transform and modify concepts so as to develop a shared meaning and understanding. The main drawcard of Web 2.0 is the inclusion of both the intrapersonal domain (individual learning through the blog) and interpersonal domain (collaborative learning through the group wiki).

The use of ICT in classrooms has been found to enhance motivation and self-esteem; this can be put down to the active engagement of learners, where self-regulation and control over learning are encouraged by the teacher, peers (and parents). This ‘non-intervention’ process allows learning to occur naturally and progressively through co-operation, and is modelled upon Glasser ‘s(1992) and Roger’s (1989)model of classroom management where students need area met and good behaviour ensues – a need for belonging, power, freedom, fun. All these ‘basic needs’ are addressed throughout Web 2.0 applications where the children have ‘responsibility and self-direction’ of their self- constructed (fun) learning (Glasser, 1992).

 ICTs have the capacity to transform learning, teaching and communication in educational settings. The key to success, however, is how the technologies are used. There are five main applications of Web 2.0 technologies, and these allow for open, collaborative and creative learning; 

·         BLOGGING

Perhaps the most powerful Internet tool is the blog, an online journal that is continuously updated by its author or authors. Blogs are Web sites that facilitate instantaneous publication and allow for feedback from readers. They’ve been used to form professional development communities, both within one school and across continents. Within the classroom, a blog may aid in brainstorming generating discussion, and also as a diary for students to critically reflect on teaching and learning.

·         WIKIS

A wiki is a communal, subject-specific Web site where users are free to add and/or edit content. When it comes to Internet-based collaboration, there’s nothing easier to use. In schools, wikis enable groups of students (parents), teachers, or both to gather content and share written work.

·         SOCIAL NETWROKING

These are often called “social content-sharing sites,” the most notable being MySpace and Facebook, where members create profiles, network, and share opinions, photos, and audio-visual content.  Both can act as a classroom tool for a classroom community. As it can be employed as an effective pedagogical tool (consider Constructivist Learning). Teachers can use sites like MySpace or Facebook as a tool for developing a sense of community with students where everyone feels free to contribute (consider Glasser’s Reality therapy Theory). Both Myspace and Facebook allow for multi-tasking, as they are both highly organized and highly structured. There is nothing more boring for students then sitting at their desks writing pages of notes, at least this way there is an opportunity for engagement and excitement.

·         SOCIAL BOOKMARKING  

Through social bookmarking, web users share their sources of information by allowing anyone to copy their RSS feeds. Folksonomic tagging is then intended to make a body of information increasingly easy to search, discover, and navigate over time. For instance, Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site; the primary use of del.icio.us is to store your favourites/bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. It also allows for social networking so one is able to view/share networked friend’s favorite sites as well. For a classroom environment, del.icio.us is recommended because it acts as a link-log for research and through collaboration it is a much more efficient and effective search engine.  

·         PODCASTING

Podcasting enables Web sites to provide visitors with audio and/or video recordings that can be listened to and watched at any time. There are about as many social networking sites as there are interests, and among favorites are podcasting Flickr (and subsequently Photobucket), where photographs are posted and shared, and the video-sharing site YouTube (and subsequently TeacherTube). Again, like most other Web 2.0 programs, these applications work on a share principle, and when used in the design of lessons they promote and build visual literacy skills in students. 

Web 2.0 allows for engaged, collaborative learning, within which learners are able to access environments, tools and resources (including form other learners) at their own pace, in their own time and from wherever they may be. This empowers learners with responsibility for their own learning, so the Web 2.0 applications often act as catalysts for authentic learning experiences. Ultimately, the implication of Web 2.0 offers new possibilities for teacher professional development, student engagement and meaningful school-community integration.

REFERENCES

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