Using Web 2.0 to Support the Active Learning Experience

By Williams, Jo; Chinn, Susan J. | Journal of Information Systems Education, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview
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Using Web 2.0 to Support the Active Learning Experience


Williams, Jo, Chinn, Susan J., Journal of Information Systems Education


1. INTRODUCTION

Increased attention to student engagement and active learning strategies have become particularly relevant in today's classroom environments. Researchers (Bonwell and Eison, 1991; Chernay, 2008; Graffam, 2007) across a range of disciplines have agreed that to be actively involved requires students to use higher order thinking including analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Incorporating strategies that support this kind of learning are also considered more relevant and meaningful when teaching "net generation" students who were born between 1982-1991 (Oberlinger and Oberlinger, 2005). Net generation learners have different styles and expectations that require faculty to reconsider pedagogical approaches (Prensky, 2001). Traditional classroom structure and teaching strategies are challenged by the learning needs of these students who process information differently. Faculty must consider the impact of net generation characteristics such as preferences for digital literacy, experiential learning, interactivity and immediacy on all areas of course design and delivery (Skiba and Barton, 2006).

The purpose of this paper is to address these challenges through the development and implementation of an interdisciplinary, active learning experience that increases information technology literacy of business students through the use of Web 2.0 tools. The information systems (IS) curriculum is widely acknowledged to have an interdisciplinary background; it is also a key component in other business disciplines (Benbaset and Weber, 1996; McBride and Hackney, 2003). As such, and in response to the current contraction and elimination of separate IS programs, faculty seek to provide the application of information technology concepts in other classes. Such integration actually strengthens both the application of those concepts to problem solving across business disciplines and it improves the network connections to other faculty and the business community (McBride and Hackney, 2003).

The research questions under consideration are:

* Can information technology literacy skills be effectively developed in an interdisciplinary setting?

* How does the development of an experiential learning activity enhance student engagement and learning outcomes?

Using Web 2.0 tools builds on the previous experiences that net generation learners have with social networking. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to analyze the use of these tools in a classroom context, and to assess the potential of broader application in business environments and in their future lives. This study includes a discussion of the active learning literature and the appropriateness of such strategies with net generation learners. It also details the implementation of this experience within the curriculum, and assesses the benefits and challenges related to enhanced student learning and engagement as well as literacy outcomes.

2. BACKGROUND

2.1 Active Learning

Engaging students in learning can be both challenging and rewarding for educators. Chapman (2003) defined student engagement in association with classroom learning and stated that three inter-related criteria must be considered as part of the process: cognitive investment, active participation and emotional engagement. The focus on active learning is supported by numerous researchers (Bonwell and Eison, 1991; Chernay, 2008; Graffam, 2007) and is defined by Bonwell and Eisen (1991) as instructional activities involving "students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing" (p. 2). Bonwell and Eisen (1991) also supported the notion that the adoption of active learning pedagogies contributes to increased student learning. Common characteristics associated with active learning include the use of higher level thinking and engagement of students in activities that encourage exploration and subsequent evaluation of their involvement.

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