Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Learning a sense of community online

19.06.2007
Children and their teachers are already benefiting from online learning communities such as the Oracle Education Foundation's Think.com, but there is a real opportunity for richer learning with such systems that is yet to be tapped.

Elizabeth Hartnell-Young of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Nottingham and freelance statistician Karen Corneille of Victoria, Australia, writing in the International Journal of Web Based Communities, describe how they have taken Think.com as a case study and investigated how a free, password-protected online community can support children's learning.

"We found that many children engaged readily with the site," says Hartnell-Young. Even those children with less developed ICT skills benefited from interacting with others. She adds that, "educators played a powerful role in mediating learning, managing the communities, setting guidelines for participation, and linking students with outside experts." Such online communities are not yet mature enough to provide a fully rich learning experience, however, the researchers add.

As part of their assessment of the online learning community, the team defined the process of learning as not simply rote learning of events and objects but the creation of knowledge products, including information, principles and theories. Building knowledge obviously underpins learning.

The researchers also point out that modern teaching does not simply involve a teacher imparting knowledge to students but a more creative process in which teachers lead students and help them build knowledge. Such a process still needs boundaries but is more of a partnership with student and teacher essentially "learning" together. Such online communities have a long way to go to reach their full potential for Learning, however, they add.

Translating the concepts of teaching, learning, and knowledge building to an online community is no simple task. The Web is a disparate mix of useful, informative, entertaining, misconstrued and malicious material. The boundaries provided by a protected online learning system allows teachers to mediate the learning process in a secure and safe way, the researchers explain.

The team set out to find instances of how Think.com, as an example of an online learning community, helps the learning process. They assessed how such a system encourages a range of "digital" literacy, through enabling students to create their own material, and cases of interaction and collaboration between users in different learning tasks.

"As evidence of digital literacy, we considered individual students' pages," Hartnell-Young explains, "and the range of text, files and images with which they filled these pages." The team also investigated whether a sense of identity and audience existed and the kinds of social skills developed by users on message boards and voting. They also sought examples of joint tasks where groups worked together within a school, between different schools, and even internationally.

They found that the best way that teachers and facilitators could help students reap the rewards of using an online community is by encouraging their active engagement by designing accessible and provocative online activities, managing access to useful resources and, most of all, asking relevant and thought-provoking questions that challenge the students. "Teachers need to play an active role in encouraging student voice and ensuring that students can create and identify quality content," Hartnell-Young says.

For their part, as students start to share their pages and engage more widely within such a community, they can get positive feedback from fellow students and their teachers as well as benchmarking their own efforts against those of others.

Jim Corlett | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk
http://www.sciencebase.com

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>