A learning model for enhancing the student's control in educational process using Web 2.0 personal learning environments

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<ul><li><p>A learning model for enhancing the students controlin educational process using Web 2.0 personallearning environments</p><p>Ebrahim Rahimi, Jan van den Berg and Wim Veen</p><p>Ebrahim Rahimi is PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University ofTechnology. Jan van den Berg is Full Professor Cyber Security at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Managementand the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Delft University of Technology.Wim Veen is Full Professor Learning Systems at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft Univer-sity of Technology. Address for correspondence: Mr Ebrahim Rahimi, Building 31, Jaffalaan 5, 2628 BX, Delft, TheNetherlands. Email: e.rahimi@tudelft.nl</p><p>AbstractIn recent educational literature, it has been observed that improving students controlhas the potential of increasing his or her feeling of ownership, personal agency andactiveness as means to maximize his or her educational achievement. While the mainconceived goal for personal learning environments (PLEs) is to increase students controlby taking advantage of Web 2.0 tools and technologies, there is not a robust learningmodel available to achieve it. This contribution focuses on proposing a learning modelbuilt upon self-regulated learning and students control theories and concepts, andsupported by the learning affordances of Web 2.0 tools and technologies for enhancingstudents control by developing and applying Web 2.0 PLEs.</p><p>IntroductionPersonal learning environments (PLEs) are a new and promising area of development in thetechnology-enhanced learning (TEL) domain. As stated by Johnson and Liber (2008), the PLEmovement pertains to the application of Web 2.0 tools and social software to education. Accord-ing to Attwell (2007), PLEs are activity spaces in which students interact and communicate withone another and with experts by using loosely coupled Web 2.0 tools, the ultimate result of whichis the development of collective learning. Dabbagh and Kitsantas (2012) defined Web 2.0-basedPLEs as learning environments built on in-the-cloud Web 2.0 tools and services designed to helpstudents aggregate and share resources, participate in collective knowledge generation, andmanage their own meaning making.</p><p>In the e-learning domain, PLEs are increasingly attracting the attentions of educational research-ers and practitioners as an effective pedagogical approach to addressing issues of personalizationand students control. In this regard, two main conceived objectives with using PLEs are (1)making students competent and responsible to achieve and assume control for their learning and(2) providing students with opportunities to design and develop their learning environments(Drexler, 2010; Johnson &amp; Liber, 2008; Valtonen et al, 2012).</p><p>Web 2.0 tools and technologies are receiving intense and growing interest across all sectors of theeducational industry as means for facilitating the transformation of learning through extendingthe students control over the whole/entire learning process (Alexander, 2006; Dabbagh &amp;Kitsantas, 2012; McLoughlin &amp; Lee, 2010). These tools and services provide students with</p><p>British Journal of Educational Technology (2014)doi:10.1111/bjet.12170</p><p> 2014 British Educational Research Association</p></li><li><p>just-in-time and at-your-fingertips learning opportunities and can support a wide range ofteaching and learning activities including creative and collective contribution (Twitter, Facebook),knowledge (co-)producing (wikis, YouTube, Google Docs), communication (Skype), knowledgemanagement and organizing (Delicious, Diigo), self-expressing (blogs), creating and managingpersonal pages (Netvibes), sharing and exchanging documents (Dropbox), and analyzing anddeveloping new concepts and ideas (MindMeister).</p><p>Surprisingly, while personalization and supporting students control appear to be laudable anddefensible objectives of Web 2.0 PLEs, it seems that these notions and the ways of how to attainthem very often remain unanswered, vague and too general in PLE literature (Buchem, 2012;Vljataga &amp; Laanpere, 2010). As a result, as asserted by Kop and Hill (2008), educators atdifferent educational levels are forced to adapt and rethink their teaching approaches in conjunc-tion with the advent of new Web 2.0 technologies without a clear road map for attending tostudents various needs. Affected by the existence of a dominant technology-driven approach toPLEs, a common solution proposed to support students control is to provide them with a set ofWeb 2.0 tools and services and to allow them to select and use these tools in a personal way theydeem fit. This gift-wrapping approach to new technologies and media can at best provide sometechnological personalization and add-ons to existing practices of students (Fischer &amp; Scharff,1998) rather than supporting their control and improving the quality of learning (Vljataga &amp;Laanpere, 2010). On the contrary, to support and enhance students control, new technologies</p><p>Practitioner NotesWhat is already known about this topic</p><p> Personal learning environments (PLEs) are increasingly attracting the attentions ofeducational researchers and practitioners in addressing issues of personalization andstudents control.</p><p> Educators are forced to adapt their pedagogical practices in conjunction with theadvent of new Web 2.0 technologies and PLEs without a clear road map for attendingto students various needs.</p><p> The students control notion and the ways of how to attain it by developing andapplying PLEs too often remain unanswered and vague in PLE literature.</p><p>What this paper adds</p><p> A learning model built upon self-regulated learning and transactional control theoriesto integrate Web 2.0 technologies into educational settings to develop and apply PLEsas a means for enhancing students control in educational process.</p><p> The ways to attain main elements of students control by developing and applyingPLEs.</p><p> Practical directions including educational and technological requirements for devel-oping and applying PLEs in educational settings.</p><p>Implications for practice and/or policy</p><p> Pedagogical practices of educators can be redefined in a way to nurture and support astudent-driven process for developing PLEs.</p><p> Epistemic practices of students can be defined to make them competent to achievemore control in educational process by using PLEs.</p><p> Appropriate scaffolding and guidance can be designed to support students to integratePLEs into their learning process as a means to enhance their control.</p><p>2 British Journal of Educational Technology</p><p> 2014 British Educational Research Association</p></li><li><p>and learning theories must together serve as catalysts for fundamentally rethinking and redefin-ing what the pedagogical and epistemic practices of teachers and students can be and should bein PLEs.</p><p>Inspired by these observations, we decided to develop a learning model, built upon relevantlearning theories and supported by the existing and emerging technological innovations, todefine teaching and learning practices in a way that supports the conceived objectives of PLEs.</p><p>A model for enhancing students control in educational processAs described earlier, there are two main conceived objectives with PLEs, including (1) makingstudents competent to achieve more control in educational process and (2) enabling them todesign and develop their learning environments. While achieving the first objective is directlydependent on the students cognitive and metacognitive abilities, epistemic practices, and theirattitudes and willingness to assume responsibility for their learning, the achievement of secondobjective is mainly facilitated by the pedagogical practice of the teacher. As asserted by Dron(2007), control is concerned with making decisions about the learning activities during thelearning journey. Taken together, it can be argued that any model that aims to support studentscontrol by developing and applying Web 2.0 PLEs should (1) improve the students cognitive andmetacognitive abilities and redefine his or her epistemic practices, (2) redefine the pedagogicalprocess to allow the student to develop and apply his or her PLE as a means for learning, (3)combine the redefined epistemic and pedagogical elements and (4) take advantage of the learningaffordances of Web 2.0 tools and technologies to design appropriate technology-enhanced teach-ing and learning activities and provide opportunities for the student to make decisions about hisor her learning activities. Figure 1 presents a model that is built upon these arguments and is asummary of the discursive notes that follow in this paper.</p><p>The model consists of six blocks, including students control dimensions, the learning affordancesof Web 2.0 tools and technologies, the learning process, TEL activities, student-driven PLEsdevelopment process and increased students control in educational process. The students control</p><p>Figure 1: The proposed model for enhancing students control by developing and applying Web 2.0 personallearning environments (PLEs)</p><p>Enhancing students control using Web 2.0 PLEs 3</p><p> 2014 British Educational Research Association</p></li><li><p>dimensions block introduces the main elements of the students cognitive and metacognitivepractices determining his or her level of control over the educational process. The learningaffordances of Web 2.0 tools and technologies block presents a mapping between the core andunderlying concepts of Web 2.0 tools and technologies and the students control dimensions. Thelearning process block defines the main phases the student needs to pass through to achieve his orher learning goals and develop his or her PLE. The technology-enhanced learning activities block, asthe combination of the students control dimensions and learning process supported by thelearning affordances of Web 2.0 tools and technologies, presents the educational activities thatthe student should perform using technology. The student-driven PLEs development process blockdescribes how the model results in a student-driven process for developing PLEs. The increasedstudents control in educational process block explains the ways that the model contributes toenhancing the students control in educational process.</p><p>Students control dimensionsAccording to Garrison and Baynton (1987), the learners control can be achieved by supportingand establishing a dynamic balance between three elements, including power, support and inde-pendence. To define the main dimensions of the students control, we borrow these elements fromthe Garrison and Bayntons model and name them as capability (refers to the cognitive abilitiesand competencies student requires to participate in particular learning experiences), support(refers to the resources such as learning materials, course structure, teachers guides and scaf-foldings, and community experts that the student needs in order to carry out their learning)and autonomy (refers to the students freedom to choose what, how, when and where to learn)respectively.</p><p>Learning affordances of Web 2.0 tools and technologiesIn order to investigate the ways that Web 2.0 tools and technologies can support the studentscontrol model, we need to elicit their learning potential. Because of the steadily increasingheterogeneity of these tools and the ambiguousness of Web 2.0 concept, it is difficult to reachconsensus about the meaning, notion and borders of Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Hence, weneed to consider the gravitational core and underlying concepts of Web 2.0 to depict a picture oftheir learning potential and then to map these core concepts into the elements of the studentscontrol model. To do so, we take advantage of the underlying concepts of Web 2.0 defined asbelow:</p><p> Social software: a software application that provides an architecture of participation for end-users to support collaboration and harnessing of collective intelligence by extending or derivingadded value from human social behavior and interactions (OReilly, 2005).</p><p> Micro-content: a metaphor for the nature of user-generated content in Web 2.0 including blogposts, wiki conversations, RSS feeds, podcasts, vodcasts and tweets compared with the pagemetaphor of Web 1.0 (Alexander, 2006).</p><p> Openness: refers to the free availability of web tools and user-generated content. Folksonomy: user-generated taxonomies that are dynamic and socially or collaboratively con-</p><p>structed, in contrast to established hierarchical taxonomies that are typically created by expertsin a discipline or domain of study (Alexander, 2006).</p><p> Sophisticated interfaces: refer to the drag-and-drop, semantic, widget-based websites created byusing AJAX, XML, RSS and CSS services (Bower, Hedberg &amp; Kuswara, 2010).</p><p>Figure 2 maps these concepts into the students control model. According to this mapping, takingadvantage of the openness and micro-content features of Web 2.0 tools and services can improvethe cognitive capabilities of students by involving them in the active process of appropriating,generating, mixing, remixing and using content (McLoughlin &amp; Lee, 2010). Also, the sociability</p><p>4 British Journal of Educational Technology</p><p> 2014 British Educational Research Association</p></li><li><p>aspects of Web 2.0 embedded in social software and folksonomies can provide students withappropriate learning materials and emotional, motivational, and behavioral supports and canstimulate them to act as active seekers of the required support. These sociability aspects offerstudents learning opportunities that are in line with their normal ways of learning and canenable them to integrate the explicit and tacit dimensions of knowledge (OReilly, 2005). Further,the openness nature of Web 2.0 provides students with an unprecedented opportunity to explore,choose and take advantage of the learning potential of web tools and services to be autonomouslearners. Finally, the sophisticated interface of Web 2.0 tools and services enables students toeasily design, develop and evolve their learning environments by mashing up different sorts ofcontent, services and people. The combination of these dimensions, as shown in Figure 2, canhelp students to keep control over and regulate their learning process using three mechanisms,namely learning alone, ie, developing personal knowledge and learning management strategies,learning with group, ie, participating in the content coauthoring activities and learning from others,ie, establishing, extending and utilizing their personal learning networks consisting of expertsand knowledgeable peers.</p><p>Learning processA PLE-based learning process should meet specific requirements. First, learning by buildingand developing PLEs follows a self-regulated learning process aiming at preparing studentsto be self-regulated learners and take more control over their learning (Dabbagh &amp; Kitsantas,2012; Valtonen et al, 2012). According to self-regulated learning theory (SRL), Studentscan be described as self-regulated to the degree that they are metacognitively,...</p></li></ul>