Monday, 14 January 2008

100th post: what do our students think of Web 2.0 in the curriculum?

Ha! I've bagged the hundredth post on this blog! What is more, it is about our students' views of Web 2.0 in the curriculum, based upon a series of 116 interviews and focus groups conducted between 2005 and 2007.

So this follows on from Suki's posting about maintaining the differences between informal and formal learning spaces. The key themes that arose from our interviews were:
  • The importance for students of controlling the technologies that they use to learn, and of engaging in learning conversations with tutors about the types of spaces and environments that are created;
  • The critical nature of access to, and participation within, specific spaces and technologies;
  • the value that students placed upon external, non-institutional learning communities/associations (for instance, the friendship networks that exist on MySpace or Facebook); and
  • Concerns about the ways in which critical literacy can be enhanced, and captured through assessment for learning, in non-institutional spaces.
The Deputy-President of our Student's Union highlighted the need to extend and enhance traditional learning environments through web-based technologies, whilst being mindful of the need to separate social and academic spaces. This issue was brought out more forcefully during the discussion that followed. One Head of Department forcefully argued that where Web 2.0 technologies are central to informal learning, then they are owned by students and should not be "captured" by academics.

The discussion also highlighted issues around copyright, plagiarism and intellectual property, as well as staff confidence in engaging with newer, web-based technologies. However, the single most important point that was raised by staff, focused upon how to build learning tasks that framed the development of critical, academic literacies.

We have five further practitioner-led sessions coming up, focused upon: blogging and the end of the essay; social bookmarking; social networking; podcasting; and wikis. We hope that the examples of practice demonstrated by these practitioners will enable other staff to reconsider their learning tasks, focused around their learners' aspirations for and approaches to, developing critical literacy.

No comments: