Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Learning by blogging

05.12.2008
Many students learn best working together on structured, self-directed projects. European researchers have created software that links student blogs and other social software tools into a virtual collaborative learning environment.

The researchers of iCAMP (Intercultural learning campus), a three-year project funded by the European Union, wanted to create software tools that would let university students and teachers work together on structured, self-directed learning projects no matter where they were or what kind of social networking systems they were using.

They believe that the tools and learning approaches iCAMP has pioneered have the potential to transform how institutions of higher education work.

“It could change higher education completely,” says Barbara Kieslinger of the Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna, Austria, and iCAMP project coordinator. “If it would really take off, it would lead to a democratisation of these institutions.”

Closing the learning-leisure gap

Kieslinger and her colleagues at more than a dozen universities across Europe set out to close the gap between existing educational software tools – usually rigidly structured and teacher-controlled – and the free-wheeling, self-directed social software students use in their spare time, such as blogs, messaging, feeds and other social networking services.

“We found a mismatch between what younger people were using in their leisure time, software that is easy to use and control by themselves, compared to centralised systems that are controlled by the organisation,” Kieslinger says.

The iCAMP researchers were guided by an educational theory called constructivism. They believe that students gain new knowledge and skills most readily by working together with others on projects that they themselves define and manage, facilitated rather than controlled by teachers.

In addition to the specifics of what students learn, Kieslinger points out that iCAMP’s approach prepares them to be more self directed, teamwork oriented, and technologically adept later in life.

“It’s part of our responsibility to invite students to take control,” says Kieslinger. “In the workplace, people need to be competent in self direction, social networking and collaboration in technologically mediated environments.”

Better blogging and iLOGUE-ing

From early on, the researchers knew that weblogs would be one of their basic building blocks.

“Blogs are the most important single tool,” says Kieslinger. “They are really easy to use, people like them, and they can be used in lots of different activities and learning environments.”

The problem blogs presented was interoperability. Blogs generated on different systems were often not compatible, so students could not conveniently manage joint blogs or track and contribute to each other’s blogs.

The iCAMP software developers found that support for interactions between blogs was essentially unavailable, creating a major roadblock to the kind of active networking students needed.

To solve this problem they developed FeedBack, a system that essentially lets blogs and bloggers communicate with each other easily and manage automatic feeds and updates smoothly.

Once they had resolved the interoperability problem, the researchers went on to create additional communication and collaboration tools. One of these tools is an open-source software package called iLOGUE.

The iLOGUE tool “scaffolds” self-directed learning by guiding learners through the steps of specifying a learning contract, setting goals and sub-goals, identifying resources, and maintaining a learning diary.

People start by entering their objectives and resources, Kieslinger says. They then maintain a conversational, reflective diary, and discuss their learning progress and problems with the facilitator and their peers.

“It’s also a good instrument for self-assessment of what they’ve accomplished,” she adds.

Positive feedback

The iCAMP researchers were eager to test their system in the real world. So far, they have carried out three trials with a total of 136 students and 19 facilitators in 10 countries, including many of Europe’s new Member States. They are still analysing the results of their third and largest trial.

As one example, social science and computer science students studying quantitative research methods took on the task of designing an online questionnaire. The social science students shaped the content while the IT students developed the software.

“We got some really positive feedback from the students,” says Kieslinger. “Even though it was more work for them, they liked the new techniques and getting to work with students from other countries.”

The researchers now know that the tools they have developed work well, but also that the software alone does not guarantee success. Project facilitators need to be highly motivated and experienced in this novel approach to learning. In addition, resolving national and institutional differences in requirements, curricula, and even course scheduling turned out to be prerequisites for success.

Still, the iCAMP team are excited about the potential of their approach and software tools to create a rich, empowering and easy-to-use environment for interactive, student-driven learning.

Several universities in the east of Europe are already offering iCAMP-based courses.

“It’s a more democratic way of using technology for teaching, where each learner can build his or her own learning environment and pick the tools needed for a specific learning task,” says Kieslinger.

To promote further take-up, iCamp will publish a handbook this December presenting what the team has developed and discovered in the course of the project.

The iCAMP project received funding from the ICT strand of the Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90256

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Snake-inspired robot uses kirigami to move
22.02.2018 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression
22.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>