Risks and Consequences of Incorporating 'Introduction' chapter

Excerpt from 'Introduction' chapter :

0 tool has little to do with its overall effectiveness in getting attaining learning goals and objectives for example. Controlling for the informality or formality of Web 2.0 tools use is required, as many instructors are relying on the conversational and broadcast functionality of social networks as a substitute for e-mail. Still, the informal aspects of social networking applications including Web 2.0 tools and their anticipated benefits as a learning tool must be indexed or evaluated from their actual effectiveness in assisting learned to gain mastery of subjects. Creating this link between Web 2.0 tool effectiveness and their relative perception of value with respondents to this study will require a research design that can isolate attitudinal and effectiveness measures while not introducing sampling bias or error.

Fifth, the risks that Web 2.0 tools might create for formal learning in educational institutions also faces the same dilemma from a methodology standpoint (Cronin, 2009). There is the perceived risk of ineffectiveness due to a lack of knowledge or trust of a given tool that must be evaluated from the context of its actual effectiveness as well. The fact formal learning methodologies are not as agile in giving educators the flexibility of creating learner-centered pedagogical frameworks is a case in point. Further, the value of social networks and Web 2.0 tools to also create an architecture of participation needs to also be taken into account. Risks and trust in each social networking application must be cross-referenced by the actual contributions of the tools themselves to determine their relative effectiveness.

Sixth, the benefits of informal learning based on Web 2.0 applications need to be balanced against potential risks. This is a critical insight to have as it will determine to what extent formal learning needs to be taken into account when researching how learner-centered pedagogical frameworks and taxonomies for scaffolding are created. How learners balance the risks of using Web 2.0 tools relative to the benefits of information learning from using these applications matters most when taken in the context of a learner-centered pedagogical framework. While social networks are loosely coupled and designed for freeform communication and collaboration, they resist the defining of both individual taxonomies necessary for scaffolding-based learning strategies and the development of architectures of participation. Attitudinal analysis of learners' perceptions of risks vs. benefits needs to take onto account the use of individual taxonomies and earner-centered pedagogical frameworks that an scale across an entire class or broader area of study. Social learning and the ability to gain more insights from a given subject matter through a pedagogical framework can also be supplanted with scaffolding techniques that mix both in-class and Web 2.0-based teaching strategies. From this context, the combining of Web 2.0 applications, individual scaffolding and learning enhancement strategies, and pedagogical frameworks combined determine the long-term effectiveness of these technologies in accomplishing learning objectives. Taken a step further, the combining of these three elements also contribute to self-efficacy and the attainment of autonomy, mastery and purpose over time. In evaluating these three factors and their interrelationships to each other, attitudinal data and measurement must be kept in context relative to effectiveness of each component or tool in a Web 2.0 toolbox. Figure 2 provides a Venn diagram, which explains this concept graphically. Assessing the performance of Web 2.0 toolbox applications across pedagogical frameworks and their contribution to scaffolding and individualized student taxonomies must be distinct and defined by a segmented methodology that captures the variations in their performance is illustrated by Figure 2, Analyzing Performance of Web 2.0 Toolbox Applications by Learning Platform. The following Venn diagram illustrates why a stratified research design is needed to isolate how Web 2.0 toolbox series of applications that are delivering the greatest value across pedagogical frameworks and within individualized scaffolding efforts and student taxonomies. This Venn diagram only captures actual performance, not attitudes to the tools themselves.

Figure 2: Analyzing Performance of Web 2.0 Toolbox Applications by Learning Platform

A completely separate model is needed for capturing attitudinal perception of the value of Web 2.0 toolbox components in the pedagogical frameworks for classes area and the scaffolding and individualized student taxonomies areas of the Venn diagram. Studies of the use of Web 2.0 toolbox applications show correlations of attitudes about the tools themselves and their usefulness. This potentially could be an autocorrelation of popularity to mastery of a given Web 2.0 tool. Studies indicate that when Web 2.0 tools are used in the context of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) to supplement in-class sessions, there is a statistically significant gain in student performance (Kirschner, 2002). CSCL-based approaches of supplementing in-class learning with Web 2.0 tools are particularly effective in those course areas that require exceptional levels of conceptualization and abstraction (Harris, Rea. 2009). Studies of statistical analysis courses and advanced mathematics show that integrated Web 2.0 toolbox components with in-class instructions provide students with the opportunity to learn at their own pace significantly increases long-term retention of core concepts. The contributions then of Web 2.0 toolbox components to the attainment of autonomy, mastery and purpose in the context of advanced mathematics, sciences and statistical analysis courses is evident in an abundance of studies on the topic as well (Edelson, Gordin, Pea, 1999) (Garrison, Archer, Anderson, 2003) (Goodwin, 2009). The more challenging to conceptualize a given academic disciplines' concepts, the more valuable CSCL-based platforms and self-paced Web-based applications become for the continual review and mastery of concepts. That these tools are based on Web 2.0 design tenets are incidental to their value in the learning process for the areas of mathematics, sciences and statistics where concepts often defy two-dimensional whiteboard discussions (Lending, 2010). Studies indicate that the use of Web-enabled applications to supplant in-class learning where the student can define the pace, the repetition and the content approach all contribute to greater autonomy, mastery and seeing purpose in the study of the given field. The long-term goal of any course and educator is to nurture and get learners to have a high level of self-efficacy in fields of interest. The combined use of Web-enabled applications and CSCL-based strategies and development of content that can be effectively used to create recursive learning tools including Java-based applets is an evolving best practice in this area (Flores, Graves, Hartfield, Winograd, 1988).

The problem statement is multifaceted and must take into account the attitudes of learners to the tools. The effectiveness of these Web 2.0-based tools, in both pedagogical frameworks and architectures of participation and within scaffolding strategies, and the effectiveness of the applications themselves in terms of content use and presentation (Levy, Hadar, 2010). What is needed is a research methodology that separates attitude from actual performance from the context of these Web 2.0 tools. While there are many studies from the area of CSCL research showing a high correlation of positive attitudes to Web 2.0 toolbox components to their effectiveness, in the context of social networks this dynamic needs greater research to be empirically proven. The perception of the relative value of a given Web 2.0 toolbox component is going to be influenced by the relative level of disclosure and privacy a student has to provide in order to use it. Trust is such a critical issue it requires its own methodology to ascertain how its effects influence the perception of Web 2.0 toolbox value both individually and in larger groups. The interaction of personal preferences of students, the actual performance of the Web 2.0 toolbox component or application and the teaching strategies of the instructor all must be taken into account to get an accurate measure of how Web 2.0 tools' perception and use contribute to long-term learning. The following Venn diagram explores these relationships and shows that the most popular and often-used social networks are often found to be the most effective in contributing to long-term learning, self-efficacy and mastery of subjects (Martin, Madigan, 2006)

. These most used Web 2.0 applications are going to be found at the intersection of teaching strategies, actual performance of the Web 2.0 tool and the value of the application as reported by students. Figure 3, Venn diagram of Perceived Value, Actual Performance Value and Teaching Strategies illustrates the combined intersections of these three factors and highlights the implications on long-term learning being attained by students over time.

Figure 3:

Venn diagram of Perceived Value, Actual Performance Value and Teaching Strategies

Based on analysis of (Sfard, 1998) (Stewart, 2008) (Vygotsky, 1978)

Figure 3 also illustrates how critical the approach to teaching strategies are, including the decision of an instructor who is using a collection of Web 2.0 toolbox applications to be participative and more conversationally focused, and less didactic and focused on "drill and kill" type of teaching styles. In the context of social learning and the development of teaching leadership skill sets, ample research exists showing that transformational, not transactional leadership approaches in the classroom and in managing a class are by far more effective. As part…

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