Increasing Student Engagement and Retention in e-learning Environments: Web 2.0 and Blended Learning Technologies: Volume 6 Part G

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Table of contents

(20 chapters)
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The chapters in this book focus on using an array of different Web 2.0 technologies and web-enabled learning platforms to create technology-rich learning environments. These types of social learning technologies can be used to build flexible and agile learning environments and foster collaborative learning activities for students. Whereas Web 1.0 is considered a content-centric paradigm, Web 2.0 is considered a social-centric paradigm. In other words, at the heart of Web 2.0 is social networking, social media, and a vast array of participatory applications and tools. This book examines the possibilities of Web 2.0 technologies in general and social technologies in particular, including blended (hybrid) learning technologies and applications. At least four factors have driven the rapid changes we have experienced in the way we teach and learn with these technologies: (1) these technologies are digital, making them highly versatile and integrative, (2) these technologies are globally ubiquitous, making them accessible to anyone and anywhere there is an Internet connection, (3) these technologies are generally low cost or free, making them accessible to anyone with a computer or mobile device, and (4) the development of more sophisticated learning theories, greatly increasing our understanding of how to best apply these technologies in an academic setting.

A social movement is sweeping the globe in the form of Internet delivered and open access sharing spaces. People are connecting in new ways while personalizing their daily experiences with shared websites called Web 2.0 technologies. This chapter looks into the implications of taking these technologies beyond social interactions into the learning experiences of students. With a literature review and case study analysis, the goal of this chapter is to gain a better understanding of what is needed to appropriate quality instructional strategies to the online university course room including social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Second Life®, and wikis. Following a brief history and descriptions of the Web 2.0 sites and functions, the reader is introduced to the design expectations typical of instructional designers (IDs) with definitions and standards from the field's literature. Support is offered from the business and educational literature for incorporating leadership into design practice through vision, strategy, and theory-based decisions. Definitions, benchmarks, and examples of instructional strategies and activities for learner engagement complete the theoretical framework for the chapter. Given the added complexities of advanced technologies, this chapter suggests evaluating social learning through an ID leadership perspective for a more informed recommendation of Web 2.0 online affordances. Following a case analysis of Second Life®, a 3-D virtual world used for learning activities, implications for ID practice are discussed, along with the various benefits and barriers of adopting Web 2.0 technologies. In the conclusion, suggestions are given for future research on the potential for integration of Web 2.0 affordances into online learning designs for rich, engaging learning experiences.

Learner control is a widely touted and popular element of e-learning, both in the educational and organizational training domains. In this chapter, we explore the concept of learner control, highlighting its multidimensional and psychological nature. We examine the theoretical basis for the effects of learner control on learning and engagement. Next, we provide the reader with empirically based recommendations for designing learner-controlled training. We conclude by discussing how learner control research may be adapted to accommodate a variety of instructional methods, such as textbooks, mobile learning, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

There have been calls to embed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into pre-service teacher courses in preference to technology only courses as a means to provide graduate pre-service teachers with the necessary skills to integrate ICT into their teaching practice. This chapter describes a case study of a pre-service science education curriculum course that was designed to embed ICT into its curriculum, assessment and delivery. The tutor modelled best teaching practice in the use of learning technologies. The theoretical framework is Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) viewed through a representation construction approach. This approach involved the students undertaking a series of representational challenges where they constructed and critiqued representations. The study found increased student engagement with learning technologies and an enhanced TPACK over the period of the course. Several factors that may have led to these findings are discussed.

Distance learning has proliferated significantly in the last 20 years. This chapter considers some of the issues and implications when teaching and learning moves from an in-person to a distance mode. It begins with a brief history of distance learning, considering both the technologies used and the dominant pedagogical approaches employed. This is followed by a survey of the impact of Michael Moore's theory of transactional distance, which considered the consequences of separating the learner from peers and instructor. Contemporary work on Moore's contribution includes transaction and participation, activity theory, and transactional presence. A second major aspect of distance learning has been the attempt to introduce social presence into learning environments. The history of social presence is explored, as are its levels and consequences for the learner. Contemporary aspects of social presence reviewed include communities of inquiry. While Web 2.0 has spectacularly resulted in connectivity, it remains unclear as to whether this automatically resulted in more strongly connected learners. Connectivist approaches are considered and distinctions made between technological connectivity and pedagogical engagement. It is argued that the full and exciting potential of Web 2.0 in distance learning requires a commitment to the distanced learner, balancing learner autonomy and teacher presence, promoting meaningful social engagement, and meeting the specific needs of the distance learner.

Leading edge practice in university teaching uses the affordances of technology to engage students in development of essential literacies for 21st-century learning. Learning designs are aligned with core principles of learning psychology, both general and specific to the discipline. Technology offers unique opportunities for every learner to acquire key literacies along with discipline knowledge and without increasing faculty workloads. This chapter presents a literature review tracking development of learning theories and design principles, and then describes their application in three blended learning cases from the author's institution.

In an online executive education setting, online discussions are seen as a frequently used pedagogical tool that promotes higher level of learning and critical thinking. A teacher's role is seen more as a moderator or facilitator of learning than as a lecturer or preacher. This shift of roles enhances the online students’ opportunities to critically think and reflect; and encourages co-creation of knowledge by way of peer discussions. It is imperative that students apply their critical thinking as well as soft skills to effectively participate and contribute towards making the discussion forum as self-regulated. However, in reality it needs explicit planning and effort on the part of the teacher to motivate them towards this positional shift. This chapter presents the motivation and techniques for improving student engagement by way of assigning them the role of moderator in a predominantly asynchronous online course for management graduates. A qualitative analysis of the observations made based on the application of three techniques of student moderation on student cohorts is shared and implications are discussed.

While larger tourism enterprises benefit from a graduate management intake and continuing executive development, the owner of the small tourism operation is limited in continuing education and professional development opportunities due to resource poverty, lack of appropriate and available tertiary tourism education. This chapter details the pedagogical and technological challenges faced by the education team at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in developing and implementing an innovative blended learning degree, customised to meet the requirements of the entrepreneur for a sense of involvement, relevance and flexibility. Understanding how to harmonise blended learning with face-to-face PBL was the cornerstone of success in the design and implementation of the programme and the insights gained will provide guidelines to educators who are responsible for the development of relevant and accessible business degree programmes for owner/managers of micro/small business enterprises.

‘I like the fact that it's simple; I like the fact that it's not too complicated, and I think that whoever developed it, developed it with the people in mind’. Blended learning master's student talking about Solent Online Learning.The authors carried out an extended project aimed at making effective use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for the delivery of high-quality online distance and blended learning. This was in response to a greater demand for such courses through the emergence of a new constituency of learner, principally professional learners, those already in employment but seeking to improve their level of qualification and employability through the study of flexibly delivered credit bearing courses. The growth of this constituency can be seen very much as a response to the changes to the funding structure in the higher education sector in the UK. To this end, the authors worked within a team that developed an approach to effective course design, the Solent Online Learning Standard, and then a new methodology for collaborating with academic staff in the development and delivery of such courses. In order to best facilitate this, the team also created a new instance of its institutional VLE, called Solent Online Learning and tailored more to the needs of these new professional learners.

The aim of this chapter is to introduce a pedagogical framework, the dialogic shamrock, for collaborative learning through technology, which is not a replacement for other learning theories rather it is a synthesis of the literature which draws upon learner centric, constructivist, and sociocultural perspectives and is related to the concepts of online learning and collaborative technology including Web 2.0 in higher education. The examples of use focus on the learner as participator in curriculum design. The dialogic shamrock and examples of use presented test the framework and are intended to help educators across the educational sector to understand the key concepts to encourage learners to work collaboratively supported by technology within a socially blended learning framework in a social learning context.The framework is not intended to be prescriptive rather to act as a guide for educators who seek to use a blend of technology and class-based activities to engage learners in collaborative social learning contexts.

The use of collaborative group work is an important teaching and learning strategy for online and blended courses. However, the challenges of collaborative group work, such as the lack of online technology skills, time conflicts, differences in team member participation, and logistics of online and blended teamwork, often leave students dissatisfied by the process. To maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges, students should be supported in the development of skills with the use of relevant (often emerging or Web 2.0) online technologies and the development of skills related to online and blended collaborative group work. The Phases and Scaffolds for Technology Use and Collaborative Group Work course design process was developed to address this need and is shared in this chapter along with an action research-based case study designed from an action research approach. The purpose of this study was to find out what students thought about the aforementioned course design process, as well as to find out which online tools were most beneficial for online collaborative group work. Based on the results of the survey, the Phases and Scaffolds for Technology Use and Collaborative Group Work course design process had a positive impact on student satisfaction, student learning, and student success and the most beneficial and valued online collaborative group work tools included Skype, Google Docs, and Adobe Connect.

The ultimate objective of any learning platform is student engagement with the material, instructor, and classmates. Little is currently known about students’ concerns regarding privacy, confidentiality, and information safety and the potential impact these may have on engagement within an online learning environment. Existing literature and practice must be supplemented with awareness of the importance of student perceptions concerning privacy and confidentiality if online learning engagement is to be maximized. Our exploratory research shows that students do experience concerns, that these concerns can be impacted by the professional school status of the students in question, and that students take steps to create safety accordingly. As a result, student engagement within an online learning environment is different than its physical counterpart. Our findings and subsequent recommendations suggest more can be done to maximize the notion of learning safety and student online learning engagement.

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional format which emphasizes collaborative and contextual learning and hence has favored face-to-face course design. However, with the plentitude of online tools which technology offers nowadays, PBL courses can also be effectively offered to students who cannot physically be present at the campus. The change process from offline to hybrid, blended, or online PBL courses need to be carefully managed and the right combination of technology and learning activities selected from the ever increasing available set. Hybrid, blended, or online courses differ in the amount of integration between offline and online activities. A mixed-method design was used to elaborate on how the different (hybrid, blended, or online) PBL courses can be effectively build and taught to create learner engagement. Twelve people (change agent, instructor, and participants) were interviewed and 82 students filled out a course evaluation form. The data was used to describe how a hybrid, blended, or online course was created and how the instructor and students perceived it. Instructional and change management implications for implementation are presented. Instructional implications deal with the needs of the learner, the role of the instructor, and the importance of sound technology integration in the course. Change management implication highlights the need to foster intra-institutional collaboration.

About the Authors

Pages 387-398
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Catherine Althaus, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria in Canada. Her present research interests focus on public policy and public administration as well as bioethics, leadership in the public service, and the interface between politics and religion. She teaches online courses in the Master of Public Administration and Master of Arts in Community Development programs.

Author Index

Pages 399-411
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Subject Index

Pages 413-423
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DOI
10.1108/S2044-9968(2013)6_Part_G
Publication date
Book series
Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-515-9
eISBN
978-1-78190-516-6
Book series ISSN
2044-9968