Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Social Technologies: Volume 6 Part B

Subject:

Table of contents

(17 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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This book centers on several key areas of social engagement and social learning in higher education today, including social networking platforms and e-portfolios. In addition to these Web 2.0 technologies, rapid improvements in related communication technologies (e.g., broadband services, wireless, mobile phones, and tablets) have also provided the necessary infrastructure components by which educators implement innovative teaching and learning practices on a larger scale, in a more reliable manner, and in a more targeted fashion. These technologies are also transforming our views of what it means to learn in an increasingly globalized, interconnected, and pluralistic world. The authors have presented several perspectives on how to use social networking tools to better engage learners in more meaningful and authentic learning activities. Social networking sites like Facebook are not a panacea for effective learning, but they do provide instructors and students with a convenient platform for enhancing the teaching and learning process. Instructors also play an important part in modeling proper online behavior through their presence on the platform and their interaction with their students. However, these tools are only one piece of the learning puzzle. The ultimate goal is to enable students to become lifelong learners and to instill in them a high value for learning that matures over their lifetime. As such, these tools can be used to better engage students more deeply in authentic and personally meaningful learning experiences.

Contextualizing grammar in second language (L2) classrooms implies making grammar constructs relevant to the learners’ world; affording learners the opportunities to better comprehend and apply these concepts in their own milieus. This instructional design (ID) has been devised to contextualize grammar and to explore learner engagement of pre-service English teachers through Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) and Task-based Learning (TBL) in a technology-driven learning environment. CAL encompasses technology-aided discussions, multi-media presentations, online tests and exercises, and social media deployment. TBL, on the other hand, contextualizes grammar using technology and social network in planning, executing, and presenting four assigned tasks: picture essay, brochure design, dialogue composition, and comic strips illustration. Facebook is the e-portfolio of the class, archiving all group and individual output. The CAL-TBL tandem is propelled by group initiatives and class collaboration evident in group discussions and planning, microteaching, task presentations, peer reviews, and self-evaluations. These initiatives engage learners; empowering students to collaboratively take active part and responsibility for their own learning. The three-hour-class meets every week in a computer laboratory. The post-semester feedback and online poll course design review as well as the University Course Evaluation comments have shown that the ID, from the learners’ perspective, is effective in contextualizing grammar and in engaging learners.

The authors describe a hypothetical course that educators can use as a resource and model to (1) inform students about the transformations currently occurring as societies grounded in practices of the 20th century Industrial Age experiment with the emergent systems and structures of the 21st century Innovation Age, (2) identify experiential learning strategies that actively engage students in practicing the collaboration skills they will need to be successful, and (3) expose students to the field of positive psychology to understand their psychological strengths and to learn how to use them strategically to enjoy more success across multiple social networks. These multiple social networks present a complexity to learners that require students to develop a navigational compass. Psychological strengths refer to personality traits and competencies that enable people to do things well. In this three module course, students learn how moments of positive emotion can contribute to the high levels of engagement that occur when operating from strengths. Awareness and use of strengths energize the drive for achievement, sustain resilience, and improve performance. Students systematically identify their strengths and learn to spot strengths in others. In portfolios, they document engaged experiences to understand what truly energizes them and improves productivity. They reflect on how strengths and moments of positive emotion affect their self-esteem and self-efficacy. In class activities, students explore how to deploy strengths effectively in different settings. In the last module, they set goals and work with teams to discover why collaboration and communication are essential to maximizing the value of strengths-based learning in social networks.

Based on her membership in the Educational Research Group (The Danish name for the group is UFO group – Educational Research = UddannelsesFOrskning) at Copenhagen Business School, the author discusses learning as a paradox and how learning processes may be supported in adult learners through the use of social media enhanced learning platforms in the classroom. The chapter begins by looking at three paradigms in regard to adult learners’ learning processes and discusses how these paradigms may be put to use in connection with the application of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. The chapter discusses the changing roles of educators and learners in connection with these new tools, just as it discusses which tools may be particularly useful in certain conditions. It ends by mentioning a number of concrete cases where the use of (first) an e-learning platform and (later on) social media enhanced learning tools has had an impact on student learning. The chapter additionally links university learning to organizational learning, since processes and principles are transferable between the two.

Based on the premise that computers have now become cultural and cognitive artifacts with which and not from which learners interact on a daily basis, this chapter focuses on best practices in preparing and engaging digital natives to become tomorrow’s leaders of a global knowledge economy that is increasingly dependent on electronic modes of communications. Using a study based on online tools in a writing course taught at the University of Victoria (Canada), we take a qualitative interpretative stance to explain the opportunities and challenges of learning and teaching in such environments. We comment on such aspects as the need to properly address learner’s functional skills (or lack off), the various tools that can be used to engage and motivate learners, and the need to go beyond methods based on delivery in order to better focus on the development of multiliteracies, in particular critical literacy and functional literacy. Our argument, grounded in cognitive and sociocultural theories of learning, favors an interdisciplinary approach while focusing on disciplines that are typically housed in the humanities, in particular second language academic programs. Our discussions and conclusions move from these case studies to a more general reflection on the extent to which electronic environments are reshaping higher education.

This chapter describes a research study in which data about the uses of Facebook by higher education students were gathered simultaneously with measurements of a set of psychological dimensions (personal and collective self-esteem, self-concept, general self-efficacy, satisfaction with social support and with academic life, and several aspects of academic experiences: interpersonal, career, institutional, personal and course satisfaction). The final result of the study is a path model inspired on the structural model proposed by Mazman and Usluel (2010) in which the psychological variables that have a significant influence on the academic use of Facebook were incorporated. A positive total effect of identity collective self-esteem in the educational use of Facebook was found and a negative total effect was found for public collective self-esteem in the educational usage of Facebook (EUF). Institutional adaptation proved to have a significant positive total effect on students’ willingness to use Facebook for educational purposes. Satisfaction with life was not a direct predictor of the educational use of Facebook. However, it was a direct predictor of the use of Facebook for work-related purposes, which was the strongest predictor of educational use of Facebook. Therefore, although the effect of satisfaction with life in the educational use of Facebook was only indirect, it was nevertheless positive and statistically significant.

In this decade, educators in engineering higher education are at the cross roads. On one side there are people who argue that the traditional courses and teaching methods are still appropriate, while there are others who believe that the vast technological advancement in information and computing technologies could be harnessed for effective teaching and learning. This chapter presents an approach to develop industry-relevant curricula in engineering higher education that involves project-based learning. It is also shown that the effectiveness of the course can be improved by designing the curriculum using modified Bloom’s taxonomy and using various online tools and technologies. Discussion about various tools introduced and the rationale for using those tools is also covered. The impact of each tool on student learning is also summarized.

Contextualizing grammar in second language (L2) classrooms implies making grammar constructs relevant to the learners’ world; affording learners the opportunities to better comprehend and apply these concepts in their own milieus. This instructional design (ID) has been devised to contextualize grammar and to explore learner engagement of pre-service English teachers through Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) and Task-based Learning (TBL) in a technology-driven learning environment. CAL encompasses technology-aided discussions, multi-media presentations, online tests and exercises, and social media deployment. TBL, on the other hand, contextualizes grammar using technology and social network in planning, executing, and presenting four assigned tasks: picture essay, brochure design, dialogue composition, and comic strips illustration. Facebook is the e-portfolio of the class, archiving all group and individual output. The CAL-TBL tandem is propelled by group initiatives and class collaboration evident in group discussions and planning, microteaching, task presentations, peer reviews, and self-evaluations. These initiatives engage learners; empowering students to collaboratively take active part and responsibility for their own learning. The three-hour-class meets every week in a computer laboratory. The post-semester feedback and online poll course design review as well as the University Course Evaluation comments have shown that the ID, from the learners’ perspective, is effective in contextualizing grammar and in engaging learners.

Final research papers are still the preferred method for end-of-term assessment in higher education. However, there is a recent push for a greater increase in digital literacy skills in today’s students. Determining the best way to utilize technology, while keeping an eye dedicated toward the pedagogical purpose, is the ultimate focus of this chapter. The authors of this chapter have endeavored to exhibit how tools such as wikis, blogs, and podcasting were best used in higher education situations to promote learning and expand student digital literacy by providing an alternative to the classic final paper option while fully engaging learners with a multimodal approach to learning. The research discussed has demonstrated that learner-generated knowledge requires a higher order of understanding, and as such, leads to higher levels of learning and longer retention of material. Cooperation and collaboration are now key components of the higher education experience; many of these technical alternatives are designed with built-in collaborative elements.

In this chapter, we discuss how to use technology to enhance teacher education through the discussion of teacher education programs at two Maryland universities. University of Maryland University College, a public university, was founded to address the needs of the military overseas following the end of World War II, as an offshoot of the University of Maryland College Park. It has become the largest primarily online public, not for profit, university in the United States. Its Master of Arts in teaching program was reinstituted in 2009, after a several year hiatus. The second university, Bowie State University (BSU), is a more traditional, historically black university (HBCU) founded as a teacher education institution in the 1800s and has been training teachers ever since. Both institutions of higher education are part of the University System of Maryland and the teacher education programs are certified by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). These two universities were selected to highlight how different types of universities are implementing technology into their teacher education programs. The distinction illustrates a fully online teacher education program and a fully face-to-face teacher education program and the nuances between the two. These distinctions offer a broader view of how technology is used to enhance teacher education and to offer equal opportunity to students who want to become teachers. The chapter focuses on the uses of technology for the instruction of teacher candidates’ field experiences and internships. Technology enhancements provided in teacher preparation courses for student academic instruction and university faculty and school personnel training in the use of technology and Web 2.0 tools are discussed.

In this chapter, we explore how new technologies, namely, video essays, audio-based feedback, and electronic portfolios, can transform traditional composition curriculum and deepen student learning. We begin by discussing how new technologies connect and enhance learning experiences, especially within writing-intensive courses. For each of the three technologies, we provide a brief literature review, give a local case study, and conclude with suggested applications and related resources.

About the Authors

Pages 289-296
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Patrick Blessinger is the founder and Executive Director of the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association and a Research Fellow at the School of Education at St. John's University in Queens, New York, USA. He has taught over 150 college and university courses and he has served as a program chair at colleges and universities in the US and EU. He consults with HE institutions in the areas of technology innovation and internationalization and he serves as an academic and accreditation advisor for HE institutions. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Meaning-Centered Education. He is the founder and editor of the International HETL Review and co-editor of the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education. He is co-editor of several volumes within the Cutting-edge Technologies in Higher Education book series (Emerald) and co-editor of the book, Meaning-Centered Education: International Perspectives and Explorations in Higher Education (Routledge: 2013). He attended Auburn University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia. He is a peer-recognized expert and thought leader in the field of teaching and learning and he has received several academic awards including a Fulbright Scholarship from the US Department of State and a Governor's Teaching Fellowship from the State of Georgia, USA.

Index

Pages 297-304
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DOI
10.1108/S2044-9968(2012)6_Part_B
Publication date
Book series
Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-239-4
eISBN
978-1-78190-239-4
Book series ISSN
2044-9968