Using the affordances of weblogs to support a social-constructivist learning environment
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 20:32 by William Bishop Poole
Weblogs are becoming an increasingly popular tool for creating socio-constructive learning environments. However, little is known regarding which aspects of the tool students consider most useful for achieving specific learning outcomes. In addition, there is little empirical evidence regarding the usefulness of weblogs for nurturing the establishment of a community of learners. This study examined a first semester university course in English literature. In this course the instructor used Internet-hosted weblogs in a blended course delivery strategy. In addition to traditional face-to-face instruction, the students were encouraged to teach each other in an online environment, where they shared their own creative writhing, and their critiques of the creative writing of others. Specifically, the study addressed the following research questions: 1. In what ways do weblogs influence the achievement of students' learning outcomes in creative writing and literary analysis? 2. How do students understand and employ the affordances offered by weblogs in achieving their learning outcomes? 3. Is there evidence that weblogs assist in the development and nurturing of communities of learners? Engeström's (1987) activity system was applied to the use of the weblogs to understand how this tool interacted with its social and technical environment to mediate the achievement of learning outcomes and the establishment and nurturing of communities of learners. Mixed research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, as well as multiple data sources were used to identify trends as they related to the students' use of specific weblog affordances. This study identifies six areas an instructor might consider when designing and implementing a course that incorporates a weblog learning environment and explores the effect particular pedagogical certain choices may have on the achievement of different learning outcomes. These six areas are the online hosting strategy, the size of any communities of learners, the task design and scaffolding, assessment strategies, the use and training of online tutors (including the instructor), and student training.