the second level of learning – eLearning 2.0

While a much discussed topic, Renner presented the idea of integrating Web 2.0 notions of knowledge creation and its use in higher education at the EDU-COM conference in Nong Thai, Thailand in 2006( ).

He makes it explicit that Web 2.0 and e-Learning 2.0 view knowledge created and used differently. With new online technologies, people can filter, control, create and share information in interesting ways. More important, knowledge is viewed as a personal construction that is developed socially through discussion and debates, and where “possibly incomplete understandings are interrogated, questioned, justified and defended” (p.4). The theory representing these activities is social constructivism. He states” Web 2.0 is principally a social rather than a technological phenomenon” (p.3).

Renner airs the usual thinkers in this area (Downes, Madden & Fox, Jonassen) lauding how they see learning adaptable to Web 2.0 constructs such as with expertise given within a community, creating and sharing online with others, and managing information through customizable services – through such digital tools as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, social networks, podcasting, etc.

However, learning in this way would require guidance, timely interventions, and relevant feedback from the instructor and others. As well, he shares Jonassen’s (1994) defined characteristics of social constructivist learning environments as the coexistence of multiple representations of reality, knowledge construction as more important than reproduction, and entailing authentic/real-world connections, thoughtful reflection and peer collaborations.  

Renner then wonders how online learning environments (course/learning management systems – C/LMS) could accommodate this kind of attitude and understanding of learning. First, he proposes a major paradigm shift at educational institutions. He also states current C/LMS are designed with a Web 1.0 view but could be used differently, such as having the main C/LMS as the host site while using external e-learning 2.0 tools,as described above, for students to personally design and construct their own learning.

With the investment higher education institutions have made in curriculum creation, pedagogical strategies and technology, it seems a shame that we have to put together new learning environments with sticks, wires, smoke and mirrors in order to accommodate innovative pedagogy and student needs. However, thank goodness for freeware, open source software and online social networks to help with this transition and readily available for instructors more prone to the ways of Web 2.0 thinking.

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