Friday, June 05, 2009

#IeL09 The Social Web and Learning

Presentation: The Social Web and Learning - A Case Study
Presenter: Robert Jordan, Penn State U

ASTD State of the Industry - learner control

Learner controlling own learning key

Social Web - how people socialize, interact with each other through the Web
- Shared interest

2 types of social web
- People focus (Facebook, myspace)
- Hobby focus (Flikr, photobucket for photography)

How do I harness this to promote learning?

Social Web aps (social networks, blogs, wikis, rss feeds, social bookmarking, multimedia and file sharing, podcasts, mashup networks... the ususal suspects....)


Learning Environment Affordances
- Constructivist knowledge building - learning by creating
- Collaboration
- Learning communities
- Virtual "practice space"
- Ongoing learning
- Many applications available at no cost
(the practical rationale)
+ The ones I used to build my learning environment free

Case study: Online Course
- Course on Web 2.0
- Entirely online learning environment
- 3 week duration
- Developed using social web applications
- Asynchronous

Study setting and participants
- Organization of 5,000 in Washington DC
- 41 total participants (40 consented) - surprised by the number
- All levels of organization represented - also surprised, esp since didn't find out until later
- Cross-generational participation

Learning environment
- Used Ning - Courseware management system
- Blog: Blogger, SharePoint, Wordpress
- Wiki: Wetpaint and SharePoint (Wetpaint good wiki for educational setting)
- RSS: Google Reader
- Bookmarks:
- SlideShare
- Podcasts: .mp3 files. Not fancy

If you covered the information, used that technology

(Can't do link because of proprietary information)

[note to self - build a Web 2.0 course]

Some developed profile
- Found they were communicating with each other in the comment wall.
- Knowledge being built within the comment walls.
- Saw evidence of community-building

Used the Ning discussion boards
- With trigger questions
- Did NOT want to be a course "here's a tool, go create account" No debate about value, pros, cons, problems for implementation.

Web 2.0 largely unstructured. Works well this way.

The Wiki - tried to use the wiki for discussion in the course
- Didn't leave a lot of structure.
- Wanted them to play.
- Kinda disappointed in what produced.
- Interesting, the organization actually USED wikis for their technical information
+ They had them look that the organization's "wikipedia"
+ Made them create an account on their own organizations' wikipedia.
+ Most people read, not edit or add.

[lesson - start with more structure]

Conceptual framework
- Knowledge Building (primary). Where social web shines
+ Not just putting knowledge out, but also having learner build on the knowledge
- Practice space. [Key word here is SAFE place to practice.]
- Legacy - instructional theory
+ Looking at online legacy for future learners on the same material
+ Creating the reference
+ Looking at whether people coming back to course afterwards
- Collaboration / Community

Knowledge Building - Melanie Scardamalia (2002)
- Computer supported environment - mostly with kids in her study
- Knowledge building discourse
- Constructive use of authoritative resources
- Rise Above - where someone takes an idea from someone else and transforms it into a higher conceptual idea
- Real ideas, authentic problems - where people express ideas that come out of their experiences. Sharing and getting responses
- Improvable ideas - like rise above. Take ideas, others improve

It's not just about "putting out knowledge" Help them build.

Case Study Method
- Unit of Analysis: The case itself
- Unit of Participation: Participant interaction and course artifacts
- Codes assigned based on the conceptual framework
- "Unpacking" and analysis of themes
- Didn't quantify. Interpretive look in the specific course. Didn't generalize to broader application.

The non-consentual student
- didn't participate. Just created an account.
- If he did contribute, couldn't use his contribution. Would have to scrub all material.
- He got lucky - only 1 didn't consent. Many have 1/2 not concent

What saw most often:
Knowledge Building Discourse -
- triggered by question
- people grappling with issues and disagreements

Constructive use of authoritative resources. Providing links.
- This was totally unprompted

Also saw evidence of improvable ideas and real ideas, authentic problems.

Saw evidence of community/collaboration. Desire for "legacy" - several people wanted to come back to the course. Have seen some people come back - not many.

Can you have a course that never ends?
Can you have a course open worldwide?

Lots of people use blogging in course
- as reflective learning
- There is engagement too. Successful blogs have a point of view.

Thought about "if I did this course again" maybe just use same things and have people build onto them rather than starting completely anew.

Found 20 people really engaged. Found others had to scaffold.
- Didn't enforce going out and creating accounts

Study Findings - Themes
- Social Web promotes collaborative knowledge building
+ Lots of evidence of this

- Design should be simple and not overwhelm learners
+ Some people wanted more structure
+ Had some trainers - they really wanted structure.
+ Site couldn't be wide-open. The user name / password barrier. When you make people establish more accounts - seemed to be barrier.
+ Keep in one application overall if you can.

- Appeal may not be universal or cross-generational
+ Some of the people who liked it most were the older ones.
+ Think about the average age of bloggers - older.
[Hey Clark - some research evidence that the social web / millenial learner thing may be a myth]

- Adoption and diffusion may take time
+ Got some pushback from the policy people on some of these technologies.
+ IT folks didn't really care.
+ As much as you can make it bottom-up with the users better.

Did some monitoring to make sure nothing really sensitive.
- Many of these social web aps have monitoring tools of some sort.

Social Web - May be best used more informally
- You can create a course out of it. The people invested were happy with the course.
- Instructor felt a little straightjacketed
- Strong for building learning communities.
- Performance support - esp. RSS. Help gather and share resources.
- Implications for ISD
+ Liked the idea for informal learning
+ Are incorporated successfully in formal instruction
+ Many using blogs and wikis

Wikipedia - error rates similar to other online encyclopedia
- Makes people more active readers.
- "maybe I can edit that." May not be a bad thing to make them question.
- Some doing wikipedia articles as class projects.

This will grow.

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