Now Published: New Forms of and Tools for Cooperative Learning with Social Software in Higher Education

Martin Ebner and I wrote a summary of different tools and forms of cooperative learning with Social Software in higher education. It was just published in the book „Computer-Assisted Teaching: New Developments“ (ed. by Brayden A. Morris and George M. Ferguson).

Our abstract:

Since the new generation of Internet technology, called Web 2.0, has been introduced, a change of how users are dealing with the World Wide Web has been get into going. If access to the Web is available, today nearly anyone can actively participate and communicate online. Of course this recent evolution of the Web influences also the field of education. Former e-learning was mainly characterized by the use of content offered within learning management systems. Nowadays so called “Social Software” enables new possibilities and didactical approaches. In this chapter we give a short overview of how Social Software can support cooperative learning and how new technologies can enhance higher education in a meaningful new way. After a short introduction to the basics of cooperative learning different Social Software applications are classified and described. Practical examples are presented to show the general usage. In the end we conclude that these technologies have great impact on teaching and learning, as it will help to enhance education at universities.

Within the paper, we distinguished different forms of Social Software:

Social Software can be distinguished concerning their main purposes

  • Social presence and communication including discussion forums, Web chats, (micro-) blogging, (micro-) podcasting, and live streaming;
  • Collaborative development including tools that allow a collaborative work and development as the Wiki technology; or
  • Collaborative enrichment of content such as social bookmarking, social tagging, and rating.

Then we went on with a short description of different teaching settings (formally organised learning), where cooperative learning can be used:

1. Distance learning setting

The learners are distributed and do not meet in reality before and while learning and working together. The online communication is not always, but often asynchronous;

2. Blended learning setting

The learners meet in reality and additionally online but normally not parallel. The online communication usually is asynchronous;

3. Classroom group work setting – with 10 to 25 learners

Every learner additionally and parallel to “real” communication participates through networked computers or mobile phones on the group interaction

4. Lecture hall learning setting

The learners use networked computers or mobile phones to facilitate interaction and feedback loops in big groups of more than 40 people parallel to a (interactive) lecture.

In the paper we list tools and their usage and how it already worked (or not) within cooperative learning settings. We came to the conclusion (amongst other aspects!!):

The use of technology in education strongly depends on the questions how we can improve the quality of education and how we can benefit from it. For example, digital collaboration with the help of Wiki systems leads to new possibilities that had not been imaginable within a paper-based learning scenario. Furthermore tagging enhances learner’s content in a new meaningful way and makes the content shareable und reusable. Micro-blogging as described in previous chapters must be seen as a complete new form of communication – talking to a cloud, without knowing if anyone will read or even react to it.

As cooperative learning is very often a part of open educational practices, where learners have the possibilities to organize their own learning within their groups as active partners, changes of learning and teaching behavior is not only a matter of such new tools. Also the existing learning culture within the institution or the teaching abilities and attitudes of lectures are (amongst others) crucial aspects of teaching in higher education that has to be taken into account for a successful implementation or usage of such new tools for cooperative learning (cf. Schaffert, 2009).

Additionally, we have to bear in mind that such tools are not built especially for learning settings. It is up to the researchers and every single user to find out whether learners can benefit from it or not. (…)

Preliminary version is online:

New Forms of and Tools for Cooperative Learning with Social Software in Higher Education

More here:

  • Schaffert, Sandra & Ebner, Martin (2010). New Forms of and Tools for Cooperative Learning with Social Software in Higher Education. In: Brayden A. Morris & George M. Ferguson (Ed.), Computer-Assisted Teaching: New Developments. Nova Science Pub, p. 151-165.

Now Published: OER implementation in higher education – Chapter in: Changing Cultures in Higher Education (Ehlers/Schneckenberg)

Ulf Ehlers and Dirk Schneckenberg now published their book „Changing Cultures in Higher Education: Moving Ahead to Future Learning“ (Springer).

Their abstract:

More and more educational scenarios and learning landscapes are developed using blogs, wikis, podcasts and e-portfolios. Web 2.0 tools give learners more control, by allowing them to easily create, share or reuse their own learning materials, and these tools also enable social learning networks that bridge the border between formal and informal learning. However, practices of strategic innovation of universities, faculty development, assessment, evaluation and quality assurance have not fully accommodated these changes in technology and teaching.

Ehlers and Schneckenberg present strategic approaches for innovation in universities. The contributions explore new models for developing and engaging faculty in technology-enhanced education, and they detail underlying reasons for why quality assessment and evaluation in new – and often informal – learning scenarios have to change. Their book is a practical guide for educators, aimed at answering these questions. It describes what E-learning 2.0 is, which basic elements of Web 2.0 it builds on, and how E-learning 2.0 differs from Learning 1.0. The book also details a number of quality methods and examples, such as self-assessment, peer-review, social recommendation, and peer-learning, using illustrative cases and giving practical recommendations. Overall, it offers a step-by-step guide for educators so that they can choose their own quality assurance or assessment methods, or develop their own evaluation methodology for specific learning scenarios.

The book addresses everyone involved in higher education – university leaders, chief information officers, change and quality assurance managers, and faculty developers. Pedagogical advisers and consultants will find new insights and practices for the integration and management of novel learning technologies in higher education. The volume fosters in lecturers and teachers a sound understanding of the need and strategy for change, and it provides them with practical recommendations on competence and quality methodologies.

Basing at our work in the project OLCOS and some publications about Open Educational Resources I brought together existing experiences about the implementation of Open Educational Resources in higher education institutions. Following, the abstract of my contribution:

Open Educational Resources (OER) can be seen as social movement but are also implemented as strategic measures in higher education (HEI). This chapter describes the current aims and experiences with the implementation of OER in HEI: Starting with definitions and milestones in respect of the current status, this chapter will therefore give an overview of projects and implementation objectives and it describes two concrete case studies, i.e.: the MIT Open CourseWare project and the OpenLearn project at the Open University in the UK. The aim of this chapter is to give a comprehensive overview to decision makers and policy drivers within higher education organisations and thus it develops a blueprint of an implementation model.

My summary of envisaged organisational changes through strategic implementation of OER:

Figure 1: Envisaged organisational changes through strategic implementation of OER. Annotation: The basic idea of this illustration is derived from a figure in Euler & Seufert, 2005 (about innovations through e-learning)

The blueprint for an implementation of OER in HEI looks like this:

Figure 2: Implementation model of an Open Educational Resources (OER) policy

More here:

  • Schaffert, Sandra (2010). Strategic Integration of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education. Objectives, Case Studies, and the Impact of Web 2.0 on Universities. In: Ulf-Daniel Ehlers & Dirk Schneckenberg (eds.), Changing Cultures in Higher Education – Moving Ahead to Future Learning, New York: Springer.

Now Published: E-Portfolio as Means to Reflect and Assess Learning

Last year at the „e-portfolio in hei“ conference in Vienna Wolf Hilzensauer and I hold a workshop about reflecting and assessing with e-portfolios. Afterwards we wrote an article about the topic which is now published the a book „The Potential of E-Portfolios in Higher Education“ edited by Peter Baumgartner, Sabine Zauchner & Reinhard Bauer.

Our abstract:

Working with e-portfolio is not a matter of tools. The primary objective is to support learning and therefore requires a didactical foundation. Besides a short general introduction about the different purposes of the e-portfolio work in higher education we want to outline crucial aspects from a didactical perspective. In this contribution we will focus on the micro didactical level, especially the reflection and assessment of learning with e-portfolio. Additionally, we will describe challenges and consequences of these considerations for didactics on a macro level, for example for curricula and personnel development of the staff.

The abstract of the book (complete description by the publisher):

The term “e-portfolio“ gained in importance in the last few years. Focusing on crucial aspects like implementation models and case studies, international experiences, information ethics, didactical implications and interoperability of software systems, this book provides a critical overview of recent research and practical experience with regard to e-portfolios.
“Freeing” the paper based work of students and making it shareable and portable opens new possibilities for re-thinking whole curricula in higher education. E-portfolios are an innovative tool on campus that essentially has the potential to change higher education, possibly more than any other technological tool we got to know before.

More here:

  • Hilzensauer, Wolf & Schaffert, Sandra (2010). E-Portfolio as a Means to Reflect on and Assess Learning: Didactical Challenges for Higher Education. In: Peter Baumgartner, Sabine Zauchner & Reinhard Bauer (eds.), The Potential of E-Portfolios in Higher Education. Studienverlag.

Learntec 2010: Microblogging in Higher Education

Together with Martin Ebner I presented possibilities of microblogging in higher education at the LEARNTEC 2010 in Karlsruhe. More concretely, Martin, the „good cop“ presented his studies about microblogging and I played the „bad cop“ looking at the „but’s“ in his studies.  So, we came to some (limited!) but concrete scenarios, where and how microblogging in higher education could be helpful.

Thanks for Joachim Niemeier for his photo 🙂

  • Ebner, Martin & Schaffert, Sandra (2010). Microblogging – Potentiale an der Hochschule. Vortrag an der LEARNTEC 2010, 4. Februar 2010, Karlsruhe [slides]