Meaningful Meanderings

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Web 2.o and Learning April 28, 2010

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 6:46 pm
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I read an article about Web 2.0 learning, Designing Dynamic Learning Environment for Web 2.0 Application by Robert Z. Zheng.  The article discussed the nonlinear aspect of online learning with the integration of Web 2.0 technology.  The following is a summary and some points about the article.

Summary

This article describes the current challenge of designing and developing instruction where students are using Web 2.0 applications.  This is a problem because the current models for design involve a linear implementation process.  This linear process is not suited for the complex, ill-structured learning for an online course using Web 2.0 technologies.  Web 2.0 learning requires a non-linear approach that addresses the complexities of learning. 

The author describes Web 2.0 learning and cognitive demands.  He identifies the first one as the characteristics of the Web 2.0 applications consisting of shared ownership, simultaneous traversals of multiple knowledge spaces and social negotiation.  By shared ownership he means that knowledge is created collectively by a group of participants who have a common interest.  The simultaneous traversals of multiple knowledge spaces refers to the fact that the learner is able to simultaneously access information from many areas.   Social negotiation refers to the process whereby web users opinions are critiqued, corrected, transformed into concepts acknowledged and accepted by the online community.  The second Web 2.0 learning and cognitive demand is identified as cognitive demands in Web 2.0 learning.  The challenges here are indentified as cognitive load, selection/use of appropriate strategies and integration of information across multiple domains.  Cognitive load refers to the fact that certain materials are harder to learn than others and that a goal-free strategy works best in the Web 2.0 environment due to it being open-ended and ill-structured.  The author refers to selection/use of appropriate cognitive strategies as the demand associated with the selection and use of appropriate cognitive strategies, which in the Web 2.0 environment needs to be open and flexible.  Integration of information across multiple domains refers to learners being exposed to a vast array of information that imposes a high cognitive demand for information integration. 

Zheng goes on to discuss the existing models of instructional design including the early models, non-linear models and recently emerging e-learning models.  The early models which are based on the ADDIE approach have the problem that it considers learning to be very typical with little variation and change.  It does not allow for learning that requires nonlinear thinking like in Web 2.0 tools.  The Gagne model of design being a rigid model limits what the instructor can teach and what learners learn.  The nonlinear SID models of design are not confined to a specific sequence of events as in the linear model and give the designer more latitude in design.  The problem with this model is that it emphasizes prior goals and objectives as the primary component in the design.  Web 2.o learning does not lend itself to having prior goals and objectives.

The author discusses the emergent instructional design models which are learning-centered and focus on social learning in a Web based environment.  The author describes 3 emergent models, the WisCom Design Model, The “T5” Design Model and the Three-Phase Design (3PD) Model.  The author concludes that these models take on an object-oriented approach and are more flexible and they fit more with the online learning environment.  He states that these models lack a systematic approach to coordinate various components in the design process.

Zheng proposes a new model based upon the following theories:

  • Emergence theory
  • Functional contextualism
  • Individual differences
  • Metacognition
  • Self-Regulation

 

The theory proposed by Zheng has a learner-centered approach.  Learner’s cognitive and information processing abilities are taken into account.  Learners are able to access multiple learning areas without becoming overwhelmed.  He also takes into account interactive social communication in which learners access the learning system through open-ended discussion as well as a feedback system.  The model also considers dynamic learning.  As the learning evolves from lower level to higher level learning the learner adjusts their self-regulation and metacognitive thinking skills to the change.  

The author is careful to point out this theory is meant to serve as a guideline to the implementation of a framework rather that the actual steps that would be involved.  The author states that empirical research in needed to test this theory.

Additional Questions

I agree that traditional instructional design models will not work when learners are using Web 2.0 learning tools.  The nature of Web 2.0 tools is nonlinear.  Using a traditional method such as ADDIE would not take the dynamic nature of Web 2.0 into account.  I did not realize there are design theories that take into account the nature of online learning.  The author pointed out that his proposed model is not the only theory and that research has just scratched the surface of the emerging theories. 

I think this is not a fad as can be seen by the popularity of blogs, wikis, podcasting, social networks, etc.  Educators are incorporating them into their classes more every year and it seems they will continue to do so for several years.   In addition more and more universities are going to online teaching and this trend seems to growing as well.  Educators will need the tools to effectively design and deliver instruction in an online, interactive environment. 

I especially like the “T5” design method for online instruction.  This model uses an object oriented approach involving tasks, tools, tutorials, topics and teamwork.  The author states that this method can be used to effectively integrate learning management systems.  I found this especially interesting because I am currently creating an online course for one of my face-to-face courses and we have to use Blackboard as our learning management system.  The author points out there is a major flaw in this system in that it fails to consider how users use the Web as a conversation field for knowledge creation and construction.  However, I think I would be interested in learning more about this method as I move forward with my course design.

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