Online Tutorial Setting – Creating opportunities for knowledge sharing

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We intend to present a study that is being developed with part-time students from higher education on approaches to increase the collaborative work between students, and to enhance their research …

We intend to present a study that is being developed with part-time students from higher education on approaches to increase the collaborative work between students, and to enhance their research skills. The methodology we are evaluating is designed around features of web 2.0 (particularly Diigo and Second Life) which offer some benefits for deeper collaboration. The target group are students from the 1st year of an Education and Multimedia Communication Course. One group of students are in full-time education (undergraduates) and a second group are mature students in part-time education. Both groups are engaged on an identical course.
The method begins with the teacher setting the class a challenge. Students are then invited to research the question and post whatever links/documents they consider relevant using a Diigo group, and comment on what they find (using the share and comment capabilities). The task for students is to write an article about the topic based on their research, readings and discussions. To facilitate the development of a shared understanding the students post information and participate in virtual on-line meetings (Second Life). The use of web2.0 technologies allows students to participate in richer interactions at times that are more convenient to their work/study patterns. This paper will discuss preliminary finding from this project and analyse its use in similar educational contexts.
Ana Loureiro, David Wood & Teresa Bettencourt

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  • The 3 components of the research program are Knowledge buildingInterpersonal relationshipsVirtual environmentsThe premise is that socialisation is a key element of collaborative learning. The act of learning – or knowledge building - has a significant social dimension. The aim of the study is to determine how virtual environments influence the creation of personal relationships. Do they bring the perception of ‘physical presence’ to learning that has a distance element..The work will look specifically at the way CVE influence real life relationships.Do virtual relationships complement real world?Are there best practices orchestrating learning in immersive environments?Is blended learning enhanced?
  • Observation and research into virtual environment suggest that virtual worlds reduce the barriers to socialisation. This should benefit those with low social confidence.You are ‘hiding’ behind your Avatar – an alter-image of yourself in the virtual world. Communication is predominantly textual but aligned with a 3D – real world – simulation. Text communication encourages thought and reflection – this is often cited as a positive benefit.Immersion encourages a sense of suspended disbelief – it feels real. Perhaps an indirect reality.VE’s are fun and can help students to engage with content, improving the intrinsic motivation to learn. (but also introducing new distractions…)Virtual worlds tap into natural learning – although ‘learning for fun’ in a formalised context (e.g. university qualification) may still be an ideal.The theoretical basis is underpinned by ideas of ‘constructivism’ and ‘connectivism’.
  • The research is using a variety of methods for data collection:Observation of different learning scenariios forma = part of a university course leading to a qualification- informal = course teaching specific aspects of second life (e.g. scripting)- natural = self directed discovery of knowledge such as creating a stunning looking avatar as opposed to the boring default one…- The study is underpinned by established theories therefore the analysis will seek to correlate features of observations with theories. Perhaps a new insight will emerge.Data is derived from levels of participation, analysis of interactions, specific questioning (questionaire and interview). Most of the data is qualitative.- A key element of the work is categorisation and interpretation.
  • The pilot is a test study to gain experience of the use of Web 2.0 technologies as part of course in multimedia at the university of santarem.The addition of a virtual element to a blended learning tutorial is being explored.In the context of the broader research goal: How effective is a VE as aproxy for face-face interaction??
  • The classes studied meet in a traditional classroom setting. There are 2 classes – one of full-time undergraduates <25 years old. - one of part-time students >25 years oldBoth receive an identical curriculum.Both classes are required to do assignments in their own time and the goal of the pilot is to encourage collaboration ‘out of hours’ by providing a means for students and teacher to interact.The assignments are mandatory, but the participation on the Web2.0 method was left optional – down to students own free will.The classrom setting is used predominantly for lab and support work.Diigo is used support a task related information thread where students can share information and comment.SL is used as a hybrid online and face-face environment – primarily to support virtual meetings between the team members.
  • Features of each of the online tools to support pedagogy are indicated here
  • The task was to critically explore the ideas of Prensky and decide to whether you are a digital immigrant or native…Here we see real people…Virtual agents of them (some anonymous)Diigo dialog.
  • We found the hierarchical model of Gilly Salmon explains the evolution of interaction through the pilot…There was a significant set up cost – students were not familiar with SL in particular and getting quickly establlished in-world was an early priority.The environment has a steep learning curve…. How to move… how to interact… how to customise… etc…. Two in-world sessions were devoted to this (~6 hrs) – during successive weekends.A number of students engaged in-world additionally. In future tutorials in was easy to see those who had spent more time learning. Avatar appearance is one indicator. (note – there is no official way to log time spent in world)The students appear to be in stages 3 and 4 of the model. Information exchange is good and knowledge construction is emerging.
  • A tale of 2 classes….

Transcript

  • 1. SPARC - Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference
    10 & 11 June 2010
    Online Tutorial Setting– Creating opportunities for knowledge sharing
    Loureiro, Ana (accloureiro@gmail.com) | CIDTFF – University of Aveiro | Polytechnics Institute of Santarém
    Wood, David (davidwood2009@gmail.com)Bettencourt, Teresa (tbett@ua.pt) | CIDTFF – University of Aveiro
  • 2. Broad research objective
    Knowledge Building in Virtual Environments – Influence of Interpersonal Relationships
    focused on learning relationships that are established in real life and then flow into a virtual environment and then flow back into real life again
    Establish whether this flow is complementary
    Develop best practices for immersive education
    Enhance blended learning (Tertiary)
    2
    Broad research objective
  • 3. Why virtual environments…
    In a Virtual World people seem to…
    feel more: confident, participative, creative, and responsive
    attend training sessions because they want to learn (engage with content)
    naturally learn (natural learning/self directed learning)
    Principles of social constructivism and connectivism apply
    3
  • 4. Research methodology…
    observing (in-world) teachers and learners in a formal, informal and natural context of learning
    Portugese student base
    qualitative study, with exploratory characteristics
    data collection
    questionnaires, observation, chats logs, interviews
    data analysis
    categorisation, content/context analysis, quantitative representation
    4
  • 5. The pilot study
    We seek to learn:
    How students engage with Web 2.0 tools?
    How students engage with a virtual environment?
    Whether the tools show improvement in collaboration?
    How well the tools promote knowledge building
    Ongoing work. Pilot ends 30 June 2010.
    Main study starts September 2010.
    5
  • 6. Blended Learning I
    “learning which combines online and face to face approaches”*
    6
    • Heinze & Procter (2004) Reflections On The Use Of Blended Learning
    Education in a Changing Environment 13th-14th September 2004Conference Proceedings
    Classroom
    (Formal teaching and practical work)
    Second Life
    (discussion & knowledge building)
    Diigo
    (information sharing)
  • 7. Support for Pedagogy
    immersive (walk through contents and information / learn by living)
    3D representation of “myself” – avatar (learn subject matter in 1st person, which is experiential, nonsymbolic, interactive and multisensorial)
    communication, cooperation, interaction, information sharing in real time
    social network / community of practice (Wenger, 2008)
    7
    Second Life
    Diigo
    Bookmarking (referencing)
    Commenting (opinions, analysis, feedback)
    Information sharing (collaboration, building common ground)
    Brainstorming
    Student directed activity
  • 8. Are you a digital native or a digital immigrant?
    8
    Blended Learning II
  • 9. Blended Learning III
    9
    Salmon, G., (2000) E-Moderating: The key to Teaching and Learning online. Kogan Page Limited: London
  • 10. Preliminary observations…
    Mature students showing higher level of participation
    33% attendance in latest online meeting
    (no participation from day class)
    Students posting 2x more information than the teacher
    Quality of information posted is high (relevant)
    Posts are moderated
    The tools support the work patterns of the mature students in particular
    10
  • 11. Initial Reflections
    The contrast of behaviour between day and night students is a function of
    Maturity
    Level of independence as learners
    Intrinsic motivation
    Motivation needs further evaluation
    Where free will is involved
    11