Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Learning Theory

Emerging Web 2.0 Related Learning TheoryEdit

Web 2.0 and Collaborative LearningEdit

One of the common uses of Web 2.0 technologies is to build online collaborative learning communities for diverse populations of learners (Schneckenberg, Ehlers, & Adelsberger, 2010). Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, social networks, and tagging systems enable learners to contribute their personal views, ideas, and reflections in order to collaboratively create and edit collective online contents. There are two main features that make Web 2.0 technologies suitable for facilitating online collaborative learning. One of the features is the relatively simple and intuitive use of Web 2.0 tools which enable learners to easily contribute and experiment in online learning communities (Schneckenberg et al., 2010). Also, Web 2.0 technologies advance online collaborative learning by expanding the role of users from being passive recipients of knowledge to active participants in the construction of knowledge (Brown & Adler, 2008). While these features of Web 2.0 provide opportunities for more social interaction and participation between individuals, Duffy and Bruns (2006) indicate that collaborative construction of knowledge in online learning environments can be encouraged by socially based technologies.

The purpose of this section is to discuss the influence of Web 2.0 technologies on online collaboration based on different learning theories and modes. Also, this section will review and identify advantages, key elements, and challenges of using Web 2.0 tools for online collaboration.

Online collaboration is recognized by Palloff and Pratt (2004) as an educational approach that involves instructors and learners to work together when solving problems, completing tasks, or creating products. In order to promote online collaboration and to design a collaborative environment, a conceptual framework for guiding learning activities is required. One perspective for describing online collaboration activities is constructivism, which was used by Pallof and Pratt (2004) for their definition of online collaboration. They extend their definition by indicating that collaboration is an active process of learning which involve constructing, rather than acquiring, knowledge. A second perspective was provided by Weinberger, Reiserer, Ertl, Fischer, and Mandl (2005) who indicate that a socio-cognitive perspective is the most elaborated theoretical framework for highlighting and explaining the benefits of collaborative learning environment. In the socio-cognitive perspective, collaborative learning encourages learners to engage in cognitive restructuring or elaboration of learning material (Slavin, 1996). Warschauer (1997), also, identify the sociocultural perspective which emphasizes the role of social interaction within broad social and cultural context. In the context of sociocultural learning theory, Four important features of online environment are identified by Warschauer (1997) to promote collaborative learning. These features are:

  • Text-based and computer-mediated interaction.
In addition to providing equal opportunities of interaction for all participants, this feature permits participants to pause and reflect on the content. Also, text-based interaction reduces social context cues related to race, gender, handicap, accent, and status.
  • Many-to-many communication.
This feature allows any member of the group to interact with any or all of the other members.
  • Time and place independence.
This feature allows participants to access and contribute content at any time and from any place. With this feature, long distance interactions are faster, easier, less expensive, and more natural. This feature also provides opportunities for expanding learning communities to include members from different places and time-zones.
  • Hypermedia links.
This feature enables the creating, editing, and sharing of multimedia documents that can represent authentic information and resources.

Because Web 2.0 technologies support the different learning perspectives mentioned above, Web 2.0 technologies are potentially useful tools for collaborative knowledge construction. Prior to Web 2.0, web-based learning environment (i.e. Web 1.0) did not provide or afford the proper tools for learners to interact and participate easily with others. The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies provided new platforms for interacting with learners and learning materials to form collaborative learning environment (Craig, 2007). Using Web 2.0 tools provide individuals with opportunities to discuss, reflect, argue, explain, present, share, and give feedback to others in the online environments. Furthermore, Web 2.0 technologies enabled participants to develop collaborative and learning competencies that can empower the learner to become self-guided and self-organized individuals (Ehlers, 2008). All of these learning processes and activities are strongly linked to the collaborative construction of knowledge (Weinberger et al., 2005).

While many studies identify online collaborative learning activities and processes, Slavin (1996) indicates that there is a need to investigate the conditions which facilitate the positive effects of collaborative learning. Slavin (1996) argues that different conditions lead to different ways of thinking and different learning activities. For example, Ehlers (2008) identified two e-learning modes, distribution and collaboration, and discussed the shift from the former to the latter because it holds more potential for competence development. Similarly, Sfard (1998) identified two learning metaphors: the acquisition metaphor in which learning relates to the change of mental models for the individuals, and the participation metaphor in which learning resides in the participation patterns in the group process. In this book, we identify and discuss two learning modes based on the role of learner, the receptive and the participants (See Table 1). We will also try to explain how the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies enabled the shift from the receptive mode to the participation mode in order to facilitate more interaction between learners.

Table 1: Characteristics of Learning Models (Ehlers, 2007; Sfard,1998)

Learning Mode Receptive Participation
Knowledge Substance Constructed
Learning Acquisition Participation
Role of Learner Recipient Participant
Goal of Learning Individual Enrichment Community Building
Role of Technology Presentation and Distribution Collaboration and Communication

The role of online technologies in the receptive mode is limited to presenting and distributing learning materials for a learning community. Learners in the receptive mode are only recipients of knowledge, which is assumed to be a substance. The main focus, thus, in the receptive mode is on the best way to transfer this substance from one individual to another (Brown & Adler, 2008). On the other hand, the participation mode focuses on user’s experiences of participation and interaction in the learning community. Craig (2007) refers to the new mode as "social computing" in which the primary role of online technologies are to establish a platform for interaction and community building. Similarly, Brown and Adler (2008) address the impact of new online technologies to support and expand the various aspects of social learning. They specify Web 2.0 technologies as central tools for creating new information infrastructure that emphasizes participation over presentation, encourages conversations rather than traditional publication, and facilitates innovative exploration and experimentation. Learners, therefore, are no more restricted to the role of receiving knowledge, but rather, they are partners in creating, editing, and sharing the learning materials. Furthermore, knowledge in the participation mode is not a substance. Instead, knowledge is constructed from the participation and interaction among learners.

One of the big impacts of the change in the learning modes is that learning is no more measured by the amount of knowledge acquired in online environment. Learning, instead, is situated along the creation of interaction between learners (Schneckenberg et al., 2010). Learning becomes the social process of becoming part of the learning community. The new emphasis of learning as participation creates a need to facilitate a culture of sharing and participation within the learning community (Ehlers, 2008). And because of the social nature of Web 2.0 technologies, they are considered appropriate tools to facilitate learning activities in the participation mode. Also, the constructivism view of collaborative learning indicates that learning in Web 2.0 can be based on the experiences and interactions which take place in the phases of collaboration between individual learners (Schneckenberg et al.,2010).

Furthermore, the change in the learning modes shifted the focus in the discussion about the role of online technologies from being technological innovation to pedagogical innovations (Ehlers, 2008). In the participation mode, new technologies are not only involved in finding, distributing, and using information, but also in constructing new knowledge through collaborative activities (Warschauer, 1997). Wikis, for example, provide the opportunity for different learners to interact with evolving documents and enable the view of the evolution of written task (Duffy & Bruns, 2006). Other Web 2.0 features which can promote collaborative activities in online learning environments were identified by Anderson (2007) as key ideas to understand the impact of Web 2.0:

  • Individual production and user generated content
The idea is concerned about individuals' ability to work together in creating information through the use of online technologies, such as wikis and blogs.
  • Harness the power of the crowd
This idea relates to the re-use of the collective information or contribution provided by community participants. Other terms used to describe this idea is wisdom of the crowd and crowdsourcing. One example of this idea is Folksonomy, the collective tagging of information and objects such as websites, pictures, or videos.
  • Data on an epic scale
This idea relates to the data, collected indirectly from users, which can be aggregated in new ways. For example, Placopedia website allows mashing up Wikipedia articles with places in Google Maps.
  • Architecture of participation
This idea is about collaboration and user production/generated content. Also, the focus in this idea is on architecture as much as on participation. Architecture refers to way the online technology is designed and how it facilitates user participation.
  • Network Effects
The network effect is used when describing the increase in usefulness of a system as more users join. To illustrate, when a new learners join the learning community, not only do they as an individual benefit, but the existing learners also benefit indirectly since they can now interact with new members.
  • Openness
This idea is related to the use of open standards, open software, and the use and re-use of free data. For example, Audacity is free open source software for recording and editing sounds.

Understanding the conditions and the key elements of Web 2.0 technologies facilitate achieving positive effects for online collaboration. Some of the advantages were identified by Palloff and Pratt (2004). They indicate that online collaboration, based on the constructivism view of learning, has the following effects:

  • Generate deeper level of knowledge generation.
  • Promotes initiatives, creativity, and critical thinking.
  • Create common goals and form the foundation for a learning community.
  • Address different learning styles and the use of multiple skills
  • Address issues related to learners culture.

Other advantages of online collaboration include: enabling underrepresented population to contribute in equal proportion with their peers (Anderson & Lin, 2009), supporting many-to-many and time-and-place independent interactions Warschauer (1997), preparing learners for life-long learning activities (Weinberger et al., 2005), and providing more potential for competence development (Ehlers, 2008).

Furthermore, understanding the different learning modes and perspectives helps to recognize the different factors that contribute to or detract from effectiveness of online collaborative learning. While Web 2.0 technologies enable conversations, peer assessment, formative evaluation, reflection, and other social activities that facilitate the construction of knowledge, Web 2.0 technologies by themselves do not guarantee the successful participation of community members. There are others factors that encourage participation. Slavin (1995), for example, identify group goals and individual accountability as important factors for community members to help and encourage each other, and to participate with maximum effort. Also, Janssen, Erkens, Kanselaar, and Jaspers (2007) indicate that visualization of learners’ participation stimulated learners to invest more efforts into the collaborative activities. Weinberger et al. (2005) also identifies two dimensions which can influence the collaborative process in Web 2.0 environment. The first dimension is related to specifying the basic conditions in which learning activities takes place. Examples of these conditions include specifying group size, learning tasks, or the type of Web 2.0 technology to be used. The second dimension is related to specifying instructions and processes that can directly influence the interaction between learners. Moreover, problems such as superficial level of discussion and difficulties in dealing with learning tasks can be linked to these dimensions. Another Web 2.0 challenge was also identified by Weinberger et al (2005) is the disadvantages and limitations of the tool used for online collaboration. Disadvantages tools could reduce learner’s capacity for collaborative construction of knowledge and compromise the quality of online collaboration. One example is the lack of locking system in wikis, a feature that enable the system to prevent the silent deletion of content when two people editing of the same page at the same time (Duffy & Bruns, 2006). Anderson (2007) identifies other Web 2.0 challenges when applied to facilitate collaborative learning environments. He identifies the digital divide between those with access and skills and those who do not have them. He also discusses other challenges related the information overload, intellectual property and copyrights, and the development of personal archives and personal learning environment.

This section provided and overview about the role and impact of Web 2.0 in building collaborative learning environment based on different learning perspectives and modes. The two main features that enabling Web 2.0 to facilitate online collaboration are: the relatively simple and intuitive use of Web 2.0 tools and the social nature which enables learners to contribute and participate in collaborative construction of knowledge. However, promoting online collaboration and designing online collaborative environment require a conceptual framework for guiding learning activities. Three learning perspectives were briefly discussed in this section to clarify the role of Web 2.0 technologies in facilitating online collaboration. Furthermore, two learning modes, receptive and participation, were discussed to understand how learning conditions influence learning activities and the use of learning technologies. Finally, several advantages and challenges of using Web 2.0 technologies for collaborative learning were identified.


Anderson, N., & Lin, C. (2009). Exploring technologies for building collaborative learning communities among diverse student populations. In Proceedings of the 14th annual ACM SIGCSE conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education (p. 243). Paris, France.

Anderson, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies, and implications for education. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701b.pdf

Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1), 16-32.

Craig, E. M. (2007). Changing paradigms: Managed learning environments and Web 2.0. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 24(3), 152-161.

Duffy, P. D., & Bruns, A. (2006). The use of blogs, wikis and RSS in education: A conversation of possibilities. Online Learning and Teaching Conference (pp. 31-38). Brisbane. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/5398/

Ehlers, U. (2008). A new pathway for e-learning: From distribution to collaboration and competence in e-learning. AACE Journal, 16(2), 187-202.

Janssen, J., Erkens, G., Kanselaar, G., & Jaspers, J. (2007). Visualization of participation: Does it contribute to successful computer-supported collaborative learning? Computers & Education, 49(4), 1037-1065.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2004). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Schneckenberg, D., Ehlers, U., & Adelsberger, H. (2010). Web 2.0 and competence-oriented design of learning—potentials and implications for higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology.

Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for Learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4 -13.

Slavin, R. E. (1996). Research on cooperative learning and achievement: What we know, what we need to know. Contemporary educational psychology, 21, 43–69.

Warschauer, M. (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: theory and practice. The Modern Language Journal, 81(4), 470-481.

Weinberger, A., Reiserer, M., Ertl, B., Fischer, F., & Mandl, H. (2005). Facilitating collaborative knowledge construction in computer-mediated learning environments with cooperation scripts. Barriers and biases in computer-mediated knowledge communication, 15–37.

Pros and Cons of the Internet Use in the ClassroomEdit


Computer education actually was aroused about fifty years ago. The beginning functions of using computer-based education were programming and assistant system of designing instructions; such as using computer to plan the syllabus or curriculum (Kearsley et.al). With the popularity of using computers, the learning and teaching style has been changed at the same time. Teachers would put more focus on students’ performance than depending on the paper pencil tests. Students are more required to show their performance of oral or written communications- like reflection to the class and discussion with the peer ( Kearsley et.al). People can find that most of college or graduate students are used to use power point to present their research. Sometimes, even MBA students are required to edit a video to show their ideas of marketing strategies. Endless to say the students whose major are related to technology such as media technology or computer science are more related to use the internet.

The popularity of using internet has grown rapidly; for example, teacher-student learning and interactions can be developed through blackboard or by email. Now, students and teachers usually assume to computer- based learning. Most colleges devote in renewing their computer labs, offering the latest software and hardware. Besides, schools also offer many kinds of on line course throughout the internet. “by 2008 one third of new students will study via distance education and more than eight percent of the 20 million students enroll in Title-IV eligible, degree granting institutions universities will be enrolled in an on line degree program” (Jonathan, 2007). A lot of adult learners are benefited from taking distance education class through out on line course. Many people now would take distance education class compare to traditional class. Generally, people would know some benefit from taking distance education such as saving time and overcome the distance problem … and so on. While there are some advantages that online course can bring to people, there are also some issues that we might need to think about. Such as if the resource are reliable or not, the learner’ age, motivation. The incorporation of using internet can make instructional programs such as e-mail system, blackboard, wiki-book and other education system possible. In addition, teachers also can put the semester syllabus or scores on line efficiently; for students, they also feel much easier to download the handout or send their assignment conveniently. There are some benefits and disadvantages about using internet in the classroom. The discussions are listed below.

1. E-mail systemEdit

People now are used to communicate with other people by any kinds of convenient tools such as telephone, cell phone and of course including the internet. In this modern generation, each person is busy at their work no matter their work or school assignment. People sometimes really have no time to call other people in their regular work hour. Then e-mail system becomes a useful tool to connect with each other. E-mail is a system for sending messages from one individual to another between computers or terminals to inform or send message or communicate with another one. Now, most of the colleges or universities rely on e-mail to send information to their staff or students. College’s work through the networks has some benefits. First, school academic matter can be sent to the selected group at the same time. Randy Dozier says that he will get around 75 to 100 mails a day. Before that, he has to get 75 to 100 calls a day as well ( Dessoff). For teachers, they get a lot of things to do such as to mark students’ assignment and they might have more than one meeting, so if they had to pick up so many phone calls a day, they would feel tired easily and stressed out. Therefore, using e-mail really can help teachers to response to others’ questions in their free time. Then they can schedule their time freely. Secondly, e-mail can make teachers and students save more time. In former times, school academic matters or school official documents may need to go through complicated process and it is time consuming. Not only the staff will get more work to conduct but the information also will be sent slowly. However, e-mail system can solve this problem and make people get the latest information quickly. Thirdly, e-mail system can make a copy for students and teachers. E-mail can be seen as a document. It can show when this e-mail was sent and also can be saved in the mail box at the same time. Students sometimes may say they did not get the phone call that they do not have idea that they need to go to the meeting, or they did not get the voice mail, either. So if students are required to send the e-mail to report their work status, they can not take “they do not know” as their excuse, because the e-mail was there.Besides with the using of e-mail, students do not need to go out to discuss with their classmates, or teachers do not need to have an appointment with students or peers. Then it saves more time for them to deal their own business (Dessoff). For example, MT (Media Technology) students usually get a lot of technology related projects to do. Professor might need to keep track on how these students’ work status. They can just through the e-mail to connect each other instead of going to the classroom.

Fourthly, e-mail system can overcome the far distance and some uncontrolled factors such as bad weather. When there is something that need to finish and the weather is not good, people still can reach another one to report the urgent thing without going there. Besides, when classmates live in very different regions or even in different country, they still can communicate and discuss with each other. However, there are some issues that we might concern. The biggest problem the people might meet is the technology problem. Like when the electricity is off, people cannot get or send the e-mail. The other reason is the administrators are hard to promise that the students will not get any worse damage from the other computer; though most schools use firewall to avoid from this damage. The school administrators or teachers might have another issue have to concern is they are hard to avoid the staff or students to receive their private email in regular work hour. The staffs and students might check their friends’ e-mail or buy things by e-mail… and so on (Dessoff ). Some school try to force their students or staffs to get e-mail is not about educational purpose that they might lock the net when they are in class or during the work hour.

2. Distance educationEdit

According to the history, the purpose of distance education is to provide the instructional courses to the country areas. In the article, Jonathan points out that people who take on-line course have been growing ( Jonathan). “Currently, enrollment in for-profit programs is continuing at four times the rate of the overall higher education market and shows no sign of slowing”(Blumenstyk, 2005). Because the major popularity of on line course, computer-based programs become more popular and has been use a lot. The advantages and disadvantages of distance education are listed below.

a. More visual

Computer-based programs are able to show variety kinds of graphics and concepts which can help learners to understand the context easily. Some context might be difficult for learners, if the class can offer learners visual graphics, it would be very helpful for them to understand the concept (Thrope and Godwin, 2006). For example, an instructor is going to design a series of programs of teaching children colors. It would be helpful to show different color and colorful objectives to enhance learners' ability to remember the colors. “Sandy Cheiten, a social studies teacher in New York City, now develops lesson plans to accompany the ABC news interactive videodiscs series” (qtd. in Kearsley ). Furthermore, visual designed programs will be more attractive than the white and black paper or text book. According to Thrope and Godwin, multimedia resources can give learners a high quality presentation and expression that can let learners get the concept easily. Also, they consider that those different kinds of ‘media software can enhance learners’ interest. At this pint, the computer-based courses such as playing a role of face to face courses will play a teachers’ role that make learners have the feeling of being in a face- to-face classroom. However, some people might think the purpose of academic learning will be ignored. While there are more and more colleges prefer to apply distance education to teach the program. The quality of education becomes a serious issue. The distance education institutions might want to attract their target audience and to design their productivity as fancy as they can. They might have strong skills of designing fancy pages but lack of the professional knowledge of the major (Blumenstyk, 2005). For example, some elementary schools will associate with distance education institutions to offer their students language programs. The institutions offer them interesting and fancy programs for those elementary students. But the way or the content they teach students might not really appropriate for them. At last, the students might just fall into playing the game and learn nothing.

b. More personalized

Since the school offers on-line courses, students can choose the class which they want to learn or which can fit their needs. For example, students with different majors will have their own interests or needs. “ The interactive features of the software enable the students to select rooms or art works that they want to explore, and can spend time investigating from the students’ desktop ” (Thorpe and Gowin). There is one additional benefit is distance education can make it easier for people who want to get a degree while they are working (Jonathon). Currently, a majority of people plan to get higher education for couple reasons; they might want to get a better salary or a higher position, or maybe some people might want to get more knowledge. Distance education can serve these people with a wider choice of class time. In addition, most of colleges offer many kinds of workshop for teachers to improve and update their knowledge. Teachers can choose the kinds of workshop which can make them prepare more complete program according to the workshop schedule. Besides, teachers and students can learn and review the programs in their free time and in the place where they want to learn but no need to stay at the school. In addition, the practice test can be verified and designed align to personal needs (Watson and Tinsley, 1995). For example, TOFEL test, the following questions can depend on the correctness of learners response of the last question and then give the right level. Many online programs now offer computer adoptive programs to learners. When learners did not pass the examinations, the test will let them go to the lower level; otherwise they can go to upper level. Learners can be tested how much they understand the content by this personalized test. Waston and Tinsley point out that those pre-examinations can let those educators who did not pass the test to look backward or redo the test before they go to the harder level (54). However, for teachers, they will follow their own desire or their own experience to plan the class content, even though they all have required following the school or class guideline. In the book, “Integrating Information Technology into Education”, the authors state out that some teachers did not follow the teachers’ guide. The teachers sometimes feel there is no need to change a lot of their class content because they have already taught for a period of time and have their own subject documents and do not want to have additional support.

c. Can access to extra source

The application of using Internet in the classroom can let students to search resource conveniently. Currently, schools offer online libraries that students can access to the library to find books or sources without going to the school. The benefit of accessing to extra knowledge or information can make people keep updating their thoughts. People can perceive the new stuff. This way can let people reassign their own value and develop world sights as well. Nevertheless, while everyone can get sources on the net, people also can upload the information at the same time. However, this also brings the issue of the accountability of Internet resources.

d. Interaction

In former time, students read the traditional printing text book; they just read through each of them and write down the notes. Now, they can use Internet to access to the latest information such as news, games, or on line course. They are not just limited to the textbooks but can receive world events from the Internet; they can get others’ thoughts while interacting with their peers; teachers also can keep an eye on students’ feedbacks on the discussion board and then make improvement of their class content (Kearsley, 1992).Using 符Internet, learners can contact more people. Students with the same major who are in different origins or different countries still can exchange their opinions through the net. Further, schools also can get wider audience because there is no distance barrier. Wherever students live, they still can discuss to each other and share their opinions and experiences online. Linda Borders who is an art instructor says that she likes to post messages in the network and share her own experiences with her students. And she also considers that she can provide the project to the global audience (Kearsley, 2005). On the other hand, since students do not need to go the classroom with online courses, they lose the chance to contact with other people (Jonathan). If students and teachers do not contact with others very often, they do not have very familiar connections. For example, if students do not have strong motivation to ask teachers questions on the discussion board or to discuss with each other, it seems that they do not learn from the class very well. And teachers might not improve their class context by students’ feedback. Another problem, students might just pose their thoughts on the discussion board without checking others' opinions and the discussion might lose its original purpose.

e. Language barrier

In this modern world, English is taken as an important tool to people in every country . People use the universal language to communicate with other people. There are many programs now provide to students to learn a second or a foreign language. With the computer, learners can hear the pronunciation from the program. It would be very helpful; to learn how to speak. Second, some programs can make the correction as the learners finish the test whatever the answer of the grammar or verb conjunctions. Combining with these software programs, learners can get immediate message form the feedback. The online programs allow people to type the word or sentences and hence get translation fast, not like traditional dictionaries (Kearsley, 2005). The online dictionary has a strong function that it might include different bilingual versions and it can conclude over them million words. Further, students can practice grammar or writing or listening as much as they can because the online programs are always there; and students do not need to wait for teachers’ correction but can get the feedback from the computer. Moreover, the interactive design cam let students experience the realistic environment (Kearsley. 2005). For example, the content can be presented a real conversation and students can know what they should say in this kind of situation. The most beneficial part is online programs can allow different countries students to learn it. The disadvantage here is the same as we mentioned before, the students lack of the chance to face the real people. Though, they have already practiced many times that how to communicate with people from the program. They might lack of confidence and feel nervous when they meet people and really have to say something then. The other problem is students must be very aggressive to practice by themselves. If they can nor force themselves to learn it or practice it continually; the outcome would not be as effective as the expectation.

f. Gain creativity

Since students nowadays have a lot resource such as surfing the Internet and have various kinds of media software to use, they may also use these resources to design their own productivity. An example in the book, “we teach with technology”, the children in Lincoln Junior High School create stories in typing, video shooting and other functions and then share with other classmates and even present to their parents (142). They perceive how other people present the program by many kinds of multimedia, and they also gain perspectives that there is not only one way to deign or present programs.

g. Saving cost

There are many colleges are known as distance education schools such as “Ivy Tech” and “Phoenix of University”. They offer a lot online course for people who live far away or who need to work on the daytime. These universities do save lots of cost to have classrooms or gym or libraries. Furthermore, they are able to spend the money in renewing the technology and software (Jonathan, 2007). However, for other regular universities which already have those facilities; they do have to leave the budget to maintain those facilities. At the same time, they have to catch up with updating new technology. On the other hand, people might consider that while more and more school use distance education to teach class, it indeed can save the budget to hire teachers. However, the technology will keep changed and updated. How much can a school offer for revising the new technology?

3. Wiki bookEdit

Wiki book is designed as an interactive online tool that people can edit and add everything whenever they want to. Users will be able to use terminology, abbreviations or common words. People use the internet or browsing libraries to collect information to post their thoughts and share with each other people. At the same time, the browsers also can see the content and then add what they find and what they think to the wiki book. Therefore, you can see the update information with the existing former information.

Because user participation is essential to a success of a Wiki, several features of a Wiki web was created to facilitate Wiki authoring. First, Wiki do not use HTML as their code resources. Instead, simplified markup language, which is similar to the signs used in email is used. Second, the internal link system is simplified. Third, there are pages that encourage users to participate, such as help pages, or a page called "Sandbox" where can edit a page and see real content.

Some concerns over the Wiki use:


While everyone can access to the internet, it is hard to identify people’s identity. How do the administrators explore the identity of participants and the background or information of them? Even an elementary school student can add something into it. Therefore, the reference becomes a evidence to determine how much accountability dose the article have.


In the journal, “A New Management Model for Web Sites”, the author states that EPA (Environment protection agency) staff set up a new structure to make sure that the web site content is with high quality and can be reachable easily.

c. vandalism

Wiki vandalism involves any additional, removal, or change of content made in a destructive manner. It comes in two forms. Some people just delete content of a page. This can be detected and undone quickly. On the other hand, there are fake entries that some people did to get attention. This can also be easily deleted via the history. A group of frequent Wiki users are, therefore, necessary to regularly maintain a Wiki page (Ebersbach & Glaser, 2004).

d. legal concerns

It would be difficult to determine the source of authorship because Wiki authoring is a collaboration of many contributors. Hasan and Pfaff (2006) assert that according to section 230 of the Federal Communications Act (CDA), Wikipedia is safe from legal liability for libel because it is a service provider, not a publisher.

It is so true how much distance based learning has taken the world by storm. It is definitely a boon to those who cannot regularly attend classes for some reason. This is very well thought out, taking the many positive and many negative elements of distance based learning. You did well to provide the various roadblocks in working at a distance, such as power outage, computer crashes, and such. The information you list here is very good and well organized. I like the way you titled and highlighted separate topics and points within the topic being discussed. Very good! Very organized! Addressing the problem and positive areas in each topic instead of combining ALL the pros and ALL the cons made this an easy read. It gave it a good flow to it and I did not loose interest. I noticed a few punctuation and tense errors, though. Other than that, this article was very good. You did a great job of addressing the pros and cons of distance learning vs. classroom learning. I can tell you did your homework. Good job.


Adams, Jonathan. Then and Now: Lessons from History Concerning the Merits and Problems of Distance Education. Retrieved from Nov 11, 2007, fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.

Thrope, Mary, Godwin, Steve. (2006). Interaction and e-learning: the student experience. Studies in Continuing Education. (pp 203-211). UK: Taylor & Francis.

Dessoff,Alan. We’ve got a mail. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.

Ebersbach, A., & Glaser, M. (2004). Towards emancipatory use of a medium: The wiki. International Journal of Information Ethics, 2(11), Retrieved July 28, 2007, from http://container.zkm.de/ijie/ijie/no002/ijie_002_09_ebersbach.pdf

Hasan, H. & Pfaff, C. (2006). The Wiki: an environment to revolutionise employees' interaction with corporate knowledge. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series (pp. 377-380).

Watson, Deryn, Tinsley, David. (1995). Intergrating Information Technology into Education. London: Chapman & Hall.

Kearsley, Greg, Hunter, Beverly, Furlong, Mary. (1992). We Teach with Technology.

'Cause You've Gotta Have Friends: Peer-to-Peer Learning in Second LifeEdit

Sharon Marie Stoerger

Library & Information Science

Indiana University in Bloomington, USA


Today’s students tend to be experiential learners; they prefer to acquire knowledge by doing rather than listening. These new students are also community-oriented and favor learning experiences that occur through interactions with others. In an interview with Foreman (2004), Gee contends that “baby boomers were raised in a different world. They were taught to think about the world in a way that college kids today do not” (p. 64). Following along the lines of constructivist theory, learning for students, like the ones Gee mentions, is a social process that involves practice and participation. The goal of education in this framework is to facilitate the development of learners who are capable of “co-constructing knowledge in active, ongoing dialogue with peers” (Lombardi & McCahill, 2004). These new students are not passive consumers, and according to Oblinger (2003), they are not timid about making their educational expectations known (p. 40).

Not only do these students have different attitudes toward learning, but they value friends and relationships. These individuals also believe that their contributions to the community are important (Oblinger, 2004). Further, they are independent thinkers and self-starters who want answers and feedback quickly. It is important to also mention that video games, for example, have worth beyond their entertainment value in that they can be the “entryway for children into the world of computers” (Papert, 1993, p. 4). Despite the fact that these technologically savvy students may have an “information-age mindset” (Oblinger, 2003, p. 40), not all of them may be comfortable navigating the new learning spaces, such as virtual worlds like Second Life, alone. Peer-to-peer learning is one option that would enable students to interact with others while participating in virtual learning spaces.

Peer-to Peer Learning

Peer-to-peer learning is not a new concept. As Cole and Engeström (1993) point out, even educational activities such as learning to read do not reside solely with the individual; rather, the process of learning to read is distributed among the teacher, other students, and cultural artifacts. While the social negotiation of meaning can involve the teacher, it is not a requirement; in some cases, peer-to-peer learning can be as effective if not more so. As Herz notes in her interview with Foreman (2004) about the importance of peer-to-peer interactions in academia, “If you ask people if they learned more in college from their professors or from their fellow students, most will say that they learned more from their fellow students” (p. 63). It is through this course of exploration and interaction that students imitate and attempt to reproduce what they observe (Bruner, 1997; Piaget, 1952). Not only that, but as Vygotsky (1987) suggests, children can imitate behaviors that are well-beyond their own capabilities.

Increasingly, modern players expect complex special effects and high quality graphics that create an immersive and “realistic” experience. According to Aldrich (2005), these individuals “assume a highly entertaining and relentlessly interactive experience” (p. 68). In virtual worlds, students are able to experiment with identity, explore online role playing, and develop shared values. As they handle tools and materials, observe and interact with others, student-players can experientially develop a deeper understanding of a theme, a topic, a period of time or a concept. Situated within a visually rich and engaging space, players are encouraged to interact with each other and travel to virtual lands by selecting from a diverse array of paths at various points.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that not all of these experiences, including those that occur in online spaces, are positive ones. Dewey (1997) argues that while experience is a vital component to the educational process, some are better than others. In fact, he believes that the problem is not that some students lack experience; it is that these experiences are “wrong and defective from the standpoint of connection with further experience” (p. 27). Bruner (1997) takes a similar position and adds that school experiences are also in direct competition with those that occur in other parts of society – ones that take place in suburban malls or with members of street gangs, for example. Scholars, like Bruner and Dewey, believe that teachers are the key and suggest that these individuals are the ones to guide the direction of the experience. But, as Dewey points out, when these experiences are viewed as social, the role of the teacher changes in such a way that she “loses the position of external boss or dictator but takes on that of leader of group activities” (p. 59).

Bruner and Dewey are not alone in their thoughts regarding the concept of experience in the world. Vygotsky (1978) also argues that the mind cannot be understood in isolation from the surrounding society. While he acknowledges that it is a commonly accepted “fact” that learning should be matched to the child’s development, Vygotsky offers an alternative proposition – the zone of proximal development (ZPD). He defines ZPD as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86).

As Höysniemi and her colleagues (2003) assert, though, a factor that complicates the concept of collaboration with peers is that there are multiple definitions to describe these peer roles – not all of which are consistent. Based on a definition put forth by Goodblad and Hirst (1989), Höysniemi and her group contend that this type of instruction is one where students learn by helping each other. In their review of the peer-to-peer learning research, Johnson and Johnson (1988) found that students are more effective learners when they engage in collaborative and cooperative interactions. Herz (2001) also notes the importance of collaboration, and adds that receiving feedback is one of the key ingredients to player engagement. Further, Herz argues that the social ecology of these environments, as well as peer acknowledgement, can also enhance learning.

In an examination of gaming conducted by Oblinger (2004), she found that instructors report that computer games enhance learning, as well. Within the context of these virtual environments, competition and in-game status encourage players to work harder. Individuals invest in successful gameplay because those efforts translate not only into points, but also into recognition and respect from their fellow players. As Oblinger writes, this type of social capital is valuable in a “context where one’s status derives from peer acknowledgement” (p. 13). Moreover, as researchers like Wideman and his colleagues (2007) suggest, even in these competitive environments, students exhibit collaborative behaviors.

One factor that educators believe makes the shift from lecture to collaborative peer-to-peer learning effective is that the relationship between the students is more equal than the child-adult interaction. Students have a similar cognitive framework and are able to explain concepts to their peers in terms that they understand. These peer relationships foster co-learning experiences that improve communication and understanding. This dialogue between peers provides students with a different perspective and explanation – one that does not come from the teacher (Kear, 2004). Instead, the children adopt the role of the teacher by “providing advice, support, hints, tips, and models of learning to other children” (Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2004, p. 18).

Moreover, Höysniemi and her colleagues (2003) note that these interactions with peers require students to “assume a greater share of the responsibility” while encouraging them to “verbalize their thoughts naturally and spontaneously” (p. 212). Kear (2004) agrees and claims that students can obtain a greater level of understanding about a course through dialogue with their peers. Not only do these peer-to-peer relationships enhance understanding, but as Kear continues, they can also reassure struggling students who discover that they are not experiencing difficulties alone. Further, it is in virtual spaces, specifically, that Dickey (2005) observed a multilayered and complex structure where “learners construct understanding by interacting with information, tools, and materials, as well as by collaborating with other learners” (p. 441).

Studies show that students enjoy working with their peers, particularly in situations involving computers (Höysniemi et al., 2003). In her examination of video games, de Freitas (2006) notes that this type of exploratory learning, which is a common feature of both games and simulations, is “a mode of learning whereby learning takes place through exploring environments…with tutorial or peer support” (p. 344). Campus: Second Life is just one example of an in-world location that was designed to support this type of student collaboration in real time (Michael & Chen, 2006). In addition to creating an enjoyable experience in a scaffolded space where problem solving skills are developed through guidance or collaboration, virtual worlds, like Second Life, can support practical experimentation, critical thinking and other information literacy skills – important qualities needed in our technology-focused real world.

In addition to the development of skills, peer learning situations tend to be more playful and exploratory; students who work together are more positive about school, their teachers, their peers, and the subject matter than those who do it alone (Johnson & Johnson, 1988). As e-learning designer Matthew Sakey points out, “People learn better when they don’t know they are learning” (as quoted in Aldrich, 2005, p. 34). Vygotsky (1978) also recognizes the importance of play and insists that play creates a zone of proximal development for the child. He writes, “In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself” (p. 102).

Furthermore, the research suggests that peer-to-peer interactions advance student learning, and in some cases, educators are beginning to investigate the use of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, to create interactive experiences. In these worlds, just as in real life, learning is serendipitous and spontaneous. Perhaps more importantly, the learning that takes place in-world commonly occurs in an atmosphere that is playful and enjoyable. As Nardi and her colleagues (2007) found in their research on the game World of Warcraft (WoW), which is set in a three-dimensional virtual world, players often acquired facts through informal chat discussions among players who are excited about the game. Nardi’s group observed that “learning in conversation” that involved answering questions in a friendly manner and volunteering advice to less experienced peers was part of the WoW learning culture (p. 4). They also found that “learners accomplish more with the aid of experienced peers than they could on their own” (p. 8), which supports the claims made by Vygotsky.

Diana Oblinger (2004) points out that the interest in these and other forms of informal learning is on the rise. For example, researchers, like Lombardi and McCahill (2004), view the university campus as a social space where learning not only takes place inside the classroom, but also in less structured yet equally valuable interactions with peers in the hallway, dining hall, or even the off-campus coffee shop. These serendipitous encounters and informal conversations among peers “transcend course-bound instruction because they arise out of impromptu debate with peers who represent a broad range of disciplines and perspectives” (Lombardi & McCahill, 2004). To emphasize the importance of peer-to-peer learning, Milne (2007) highlights a study of team collaboration at Stanford where these informal collaborative efforts among students resulted in the generation of new ideas. While this study revealed that students embrace interactive educational practices that foster active dialogue with their peers, Milne claims that new tools are needed to support these and other informal learning interactions.


The reports about the peer-to-peer learning potential in environments, like Second Life, are favorable, but there are those who believe that there are untapped areas that are yet to be explored. Rather than relying on commercial game designers to exploit the learning potential of these environments, Lombardi and McCahill (2004) argue that it will take the efforts of educators to further these educational initiatives. De Freitas (2007) agrees and states that designers, educators, and learners need to come together to move toward the creation of serious (i.e., educational) games and other immersive worlds.

Not only is it important for educators and those who design games and virtual worlds to work together to develop designs that foster learning, but as Kirriemuir and McFarlane (2004) suggest, these collaborations are key to the success of educational gaming. Coffman and Klinger (2008) further this discussion by also acknowledging that educators continue to face the challenge of determining how to effectively integrate these virtual worlds into the curriculum. Nonetheless, educators are beginning to recognize the potential of Second Life and the ways in which this world could enhance peer-to-peer learning in their own classrooms, as well as fostering student collaboration worldwide. As Steinkuehler (2005) argues in her discussion about massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), it is in these socially constructed virtual worlds where understanding is collaboratively constructed.


Aldrich, C. (2005). Learning by doing: A comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Bruner, J. (1997). The culture of education. 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Coffman, T., & Klinger, M. B. (2008). Utilizing virtual worlds in education: The implications for practice. International Journal of Social Sciences, 2(1), 29-33. Retrieved October 2, 2007, from [1]

Cole, M., & Engeström, Y. (1993). A cultural-historical approach to distributed cognition. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions (pp. 1-46). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

de Freitas, S. (2006). Using games and simulations for supporting learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 31(4), 343-358.

de Freitas, S. (2007). Learning in immersive worlds: A review of game-based learning. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from the JISC website: [2]

Dewey, J. (1997). Experience and education (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Touchstone.

Dickey, M. D. (2005). Three-dimensional virtual worlds and distance learning: Two case studies of Active Worlds as a medium for distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology 36(3), 439-451. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from the EBSCO Academic Search Premier database.

Foreman, J. (2004, October). Game-based learning: How to delight and instruct in the 21st Century. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from [3]

Herz, J. C. (2001). Gaming the system: What higher education can learn from multiplayer online worlds. EDUCAUSE, 169-191. Retrieved October 7, 2007, from [4]

Höysniemi, J., Hämäläinen, P., & Turkki, L. (2003). Using peer tutoring in evaluating the usability of a physically interactive computer game with children. Interacting with Computers, 15, 203-225. Retrieved October 3, 2007, from the ScienceDirect database.

Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (1988). Cooperative learning: Two heads are better than one. In Context. Retrieved October 5, 2007, from [5]

Kear, K. (2004). Peer learning using asynchronous discussion systems in distance education. Open Learning, 19(2), 151-164. Retrieved October 4, 2007, from the EBSCO Academic Search Premier database.

Kirriemuir, J. & McFarlane, A. (2004). Literature Review in Games and Learning. A Report of NESTA Futurelab. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from [6]

Lombardi, J., & McCahill, M. P. (2004). Enabling social dimensions of learning through a persistent, unified, massively multi-user, and self-organizing virtual environment. Proceedings for the Second International Conference on Creating, Connecting and Collaborating through Computing (C5’04). Retrieved October 3, 2007, from the IEEE Digital Library database.

Michael, D., & Chen, S. (2006). Serious games: Games that educate, train, and inform. Boston: Thompson Course Technology PTR.

Milne, A. J. (2007). Entering the interaction age: Implementing a future vision for campus learning spaces. EDUCAUSE, January/February, 12-31. Retrieved October 4, 2007, from [7]

Nardi, B. A., Ly, S., & Harris, J. (2007). Learning conversations in World of Warcraft. Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences. Retrieved October 3, 2007, from [8]

Oblinger, D. (2003, July/August). Boomers, Gen-Xers, & Millennials: Understanding the “new students.” EDUCAUSE, 36-47. Retrieved November 12, 2007, from [9]

Oblinger, D. (2004). The next generation of educational engagement. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 8, 1-18. Retrieved October 3, 2007, from [10]

Papert, S. (1993). The children’s machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. New York: Basic Books.

Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children (Cook, M., Trans.). New York: International Universities Press.

Steinkuehler, C. A. (2005). Cognition and literacy in massively multiplayer online games. In D. Leu, J. Coiro, C. Lankshear & K. Knobel (Eds.), Handbook of research on new literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from [11]

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wideman, H. H., Owston, R. D., Brown, C., Kushniruk, A., Ho, F., & Pitts, K. C. (2007). Unpacking the educational potential of educational gaming: A new tool for gaming research. Simulation Gaming, 38(1), 10-30. Retrieved October 4, 2007 from the Sage Online database.