The online classroom – Developing learning spaces using blogs, wiki and twitter

To find various ways of using Web 2.0 tools, or Social Media tools as they now are called, to deliver lectures have been an ongoing project for me since 2006. Through the stimulating exchange of ideas with my then colleague Tom Erik Holteng back in 2006, and later on my own and with even more stimulating discussions with my wife Beata, I have so far been investigating

  • The blog as supplement to other lecturing tools used within and outside LMS in distance education
  • The use of various Web 2.0 tools for distributing video, sound and written lectures in distance education
  • The use of real life projects in distance education
  • The use of blogs as learning space, both delivering lectures in various forms as well as engaging students in interactions with other students and the lecturer.
  • The use of blogs within the concept of flipped classroom
  • The use of Twitter and Paper.li as tools for engaging students in dialogue and content creation

There are many different pedagogical methods and didactical beliefs that can make the use of Social Media a positive space for learning (Bower, Hedberg & Kuswara, 2010). In my work so far, the various blogs and Wiki have been mainly designed in accordance with the transmissive approach, as lectures were broadcasted to the students in various ways, aiming at presenting information so as to reach both visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic learning preferences. The use of Twitter and Paper.li are meant to engage students in discussions and product development and were rooted in constructionist’s ideas.

A key feature of the wiki and the blogs developed for the various courses in both Nesna University College and Nord-Trondelag University College, was that they were all based on creating an asynchronous learning environment. The idea was to offer instructional assistance and learning activities that met the demands, pace and interest of individual students. For those students who also received class room lecturing, the resources gave them opportunities to either prepare them for an upcoming lecture or reflect on a given lecture afterwards. According to Mandernach (2006) asynchronous environments allows for prepared, individualised, thoughtful interactions that are free from the constraints of time. Therefore all activities that would have demanded synchronous attention from the online students, like webinars, or online meetings via Skype or Adobe Connect was avoided. Also the use of Twitter was meant to be based on the individual students own pace and attendance, even if synchronous discussions did appear in some instances.

But what sort of conclusions can be drawn from my work, you may ask. And I would answer that I am very glad you asked that question, that the question should be asked, and that it is precisely such questions one should ask, and what was the question again?

 

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