Karsten D. Wolf
Closing the Participation Gap - User Generated Content in E-Learning
User Generated Content is an important aspect of Web 2.0's appeal to education, allowing learners to participate and fostering deeper elaboration. In an analysis of open participation projects such as Wikipedia, one can observe the long or thick tail effect, meaning that even low activity authors contribute a substantial part of such collaborative services.
1. Motivation for participation in open content projects (OCP)
The main factors of motivation for participation in Open Source Software (OSS) projects are summarized based on the empirical research in this field. This contribution discusses, what differences are to be considered in the study of Open Content Projects (OCP). A motivational model for OCP participation is presented based on self-determination theory (Deci/Ryan).
Furthermore, important content factors are proposed and analysed, such as content size, audience size, difficulty level, and marketability. For the content factors examples are presented from different user generated content platforms such as Wikis, Blogs, social bookmarking services, and Friend-of-a-friend networks. An analysis of successful OCPs shows that there are different "hot spots" for open content, and that "Don't Repeat Yourself (and others)" as well as smaller content sizes are the strongest forces to increase open content creation.
2. Structure and learning effects of participation
Based on the analysis of activity data of 3000 students in an user generated content learning platform at the virtual university of bavaria, the structure of and differences between user activities will be presented.
The idea of „Learning by Teaching“ (Papert, Kafai, Harel) and „Writing pedagogy“ (Elbow, Bereiter) assumes, that people learn more by participating actively. In a detailed analysis of learners activities’ impact on learning a business education course it can be shown that users who create more content also learn more.
3. How to "thicken" the tail of user participation?
If we target user participation, how can we achieve equality? And should we try at all?
Based on the same data, different didactical scenarios are compared with regard to the participation gap. The main results are, that groups with a higher level of peer interaction and a higher number of common tasks reduce the gap between the learners. Still, clear differences in the amount of participation between users remain visible.
4. Discussion of obstacles and enablers of participation
While providing strong arguments for user generated content in education and detailing ways how to close the participation gap with Web 2.0 techology, this presentation concludes with a discussion of technical barriers and the idea of personal learning environments to even further increase the participation of all learners in open education settings.