Using Technology to Support Collaborative Learning Through Assessment Design
Doolan, Martina A
This thesis offers an assessment design for collaborative learning, utilisation of blended learning support through current communication technologies and highlights the crucial role of the tutor. The thesis designed and tested a theoretical framework which encompassed an active learning environment and resulted in the development of the shamrock conceptual framework. To test the theoretical framework, clarify the role of the tutor and the impact on the learner experience two studies were undertaken using pedagogical models that combined the concepts of learner-centric, sociocultural and dialogic perspectives on collaborative learning and technology in meeting the needs of learners in the 21st Century. In the first study, the role of the tutor was found to be crucial in setting, implementing and guiding learners using the assessment design as part of a social constructivist pedagogical practice. The pedagogical approach adopted was to blend face-to-face and Wiki learning experiences and was found to promote learner ownership, engagement and the fostering of a learning community. The second study validated the first and provided additional asynchronous technology experiences in addition to the Wiki blend in the assessment design. Study 2 examined the role of the tutor and the learner whilst using current technologies comprising podcasts and video and a Wiki in the collaborative experience. Findings showed that the Wiki supported community and collaborative aspects of a sociocultural practice whilst learners were engaged in authentic learning activities and led to a well supported learning environment. The importance of technology design and use to accommodate collaborative and community aspects was found to be an essential component. It was found that technology is not simply an add-on but rather needs to be planned and considered purposefully by both tutors and learners when used in a blend to supplement learning on campus as part of an assessment design in higher education. This study has shown that, for this to happen, academics need to be provided with the appropriate support, knowledge and skills required in developing a blended learning experience using a Wiki supplemented by class contact on campus as part of an assessment design.
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