Title

Using web 2.0 technologies to enhance learning in higher education

Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Ron Oliver

Abstract

The ever increasing push to graduate students who are reflective lifelong learners has placed tertiary teaching practices under significant scrutiny. Web 2.0 technologies are being adopted at a growing rate by instructors as contexts for improving student learning. Yet, the affordances and capabilities of such technologies, although they have been touted as transformative and superior, may not always be adding value to student learning. Instructors can be left wondering why there is limited value-add from the technology and students can find themselves wondering why technology is being used in these ways. These are the issues that this thesis explores. Through a case study involving teachers and students using Web 2.0 technologies in various disciplines in higher education, the thesis investigates the relationship between teaching practices when implementing Web 2.0 technologies and subsequent student learning. In this way, the thesis explores enhanced learning outcomes from the use of Web 2.0 technologies. Enhanced learning requires students to engage in meaningful learning. The underlying premise of the study was that reflection plays a crucial role in learning: without high levels of reflection, meaningful learning will not occur. A critical reading of the principal theories surrounding learning in higher education was used to develop a conceptual framework that identified four levels of reflection indicative of learning: stimulated, descriptive, dialogic and critical. A blend of qualitative and quantitative approaches was used to gather data: instructor pre and post-activity questionnaires (open-ended) sought information about how the learning environment was constructed, how the instructor perceived the task to promote reflection and the success of the activity; student questionnaires (Likert-style and open-ended) canvassed student perceptions regarding the learning environment and levels of reflection; and, student work samples provided evidence of student reflection achieved while completing the tasks. The model of reflection and cognitive processing provided the conceptual basis through which analyses were made to identify evidence of the depth and level of learning. Consistent with other findings, theresults revealed limited occurrences of meaningful learning with Web 2.0 technologies. The study sought to explore the instructional factors that influenced learning and used these to propose strategies that could enhance outcomes. A series of strategies were proposed as a means of enhancing learning outcomes through the use of Web 2.0 technologies.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to current ECU staff and students only. Email request to library@ecu.edu.au

Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.

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