STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING ONLINE LEARNING: AN EXAMINATION OF THE ESSENTIAL THEORIES, TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGIES

by Thomas J. Okon B.S., Marketing & Advertising, DePaul University, 1982

A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Science in Education Degree

Department of Workforce Education & Development in the Graduate School Southern Illinois University Carbondale April 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE

LIST OF FIGURES .............................................................................................................iv CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1 Need for the Study .................................................................................................... 1 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................. 3 Statement of the Problem.......................................................................................... 3 Research Questions................................................................................................... 4 Significance of the Study .......................................................................................... 4 Definition of Terms................................................................................................... 4 CHAPTER 2 – RESEARCH METHOD AND REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE ............................................................................ 7 Overview................................................................................................................... 7 Methods and Procedures ........................................................................................... 7 Review of Related Literature .................................................................................... 9 Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning ........................................ 9 Cognitivism....................................................................................... 9 Constructivism .................................................................................. 9 Connectivism .................................................................................. 10 Andragogy....................................................................................... 11 Heutagogy ....................................................................................... 11 Paragogy ......................................................................................... 11

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Peeragogy........................................................................................ 12 Participatory Learning .................................................................... 13 Strategies for Using Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning ..... 14 Cognitive Strategies ........................................................................ 14 Constructivist Strategies ................................................................. 15 Learner Centered................................................................. 15 Knowledge Centered........................................................... 16 Assessment Centered .......................................................... 17 Community Centered .......................................................... 18 Connectivist Strategies.................................................................... 18 Pedagogy 2.0 Strategies .................................................................. 20 Participatory Learning Strategies.................................................... 21 Paragogy Strategies......................................................................... 22 Peeragogy Strategies....................................................................... 22 Software Applications for Online Learning................................................ 23 Learning Management Systems...................................................... 24 Social Software ............................................................................... 25 Social Software Tools ..................................................................... 28 Blogs ................................................................................... 29 Wikis ................................................................................... 29 Social Bookmarking............................................................ 30 Social Networking .............................................................. 31 Personal Learning Environments.................................................... 32

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Digital Technologies for Online Learning.................................................. 35 Mobile Learning.............................................................................. 36 Mobile Learning in Action.............................................................. 38 Mobile Learning Theories............................................................... 39 Mobile Device Technologies ...................................................................... 40 Mobile Devices in Action ............................................................... 41 Google Android Devices................................................................. 43 Apple Devices................................................................................. 44 Apple Device Studies...................................................................... 45 CHAPTER 3 – SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECCOMENDATIONS ............. 49 Summary of Findings.............................................................................................. 48 Conclusions ............................................................................................................ 50 Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning ..................................... 50 Software Applications for Online Learning................................................ 51 Digital Technologies for Online Learning ................................................. 52 Recommendations .................................................................................................. 55 Recommendations for Practice ................................................................... 55 Recommendations for Further Study ......................................................... 56 REFERENCES .................................................................................................................. 58 VITA ................................................................................................................................. 73

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LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE PAGE

Figure 1 -Using educational learning theories in an online learning environment............. 54 Figure 2 -The participants of a learning community in an online learning environment ... 55

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

Need for the Study Online learning courses have continued to gain a foothold in the worldwide education community. Schnieders (2011) reported that over 4.6 million students are utilizing online classes and 1 in 4 higher education students now take at least one course online. The credibility of online learning cannot be questioned, as a 2009 study by the US Department of Education concluded that in general, online learning is more effective than face-to-face learning (Boston et al., 2009). The only question now is how to best utilize the strengths of online learning and minimize the weaknesses. Kim, Liu, and Bonk (2005) suggested that there have been concerns about the quality of e-learning based online education. Dole and Bloom (2009) praised the increasing number of fully online courses challenging the traditional model of teaching and learning, but they also argued that few of these courses make significant improvements in the quality of student learning, instead simply replicating traditional face-to-face pedagogy. Schnieders (2011) commented that many courses are still largely text-based resources, discussion forums, quizzes, and the occasional media object. Boston et al. (2009) questioned the effectiveness of these types of courses in improving student learning outcomes, while adding that retention also remains problematic for online programs. High dropout rates have been of concern to many organizations and higher education institutions. Park and Choi (2009) found that a higher percentage of students participating in an online course tend to drop out compared to students in a face-to-face

2 classrooms. Sapp and Simon (2005) attributed the retention issues to higher levels of dissatisfaction reported by online students compared to those enrolled in equivalent faceto-face courses. New models and methods will have to emerge in order to overcome these problems in maintaining high quality online instruction for adults, and for all age groups. The possible solutions thus far are merely a mix of loosely related theories. Hutchison, Tin, and Cao (2008) declared that today’s online learners require the flexibility provided by mobile devices that remove the barrier of a fixed time, place, and mode of learning. New learning theories have emerged like that from Siemens (2005) who maintained that connectivism is consistent with the needs of the twenty first century, while taking into account the trends in learning, the use of technology and networks, and the diminishing half-life of knowledge. Social learning is also a trending topic, due to the expansion and growth in the use of Web 2.0 services and tools. The use of Web 2.0, and the prevalence of user-generated content, was seen by Mcloughlin and Lee (2011) as having implications for learning in higher education, as well as influencing pedagogical choices and approaches. The research mentioned in the preceding paragraph has contributed greatly to the knowledge base for mobile learning, online learning theory, and the use of social software in education. However, a literature search revealed that few researchers have attempted to combine this acquired knowledge together to provide an effectual plan for employing online learning. Koole (2009) introduced the Framework for the Rational Analysis of Mobile Education (FRAME) which is a comprehensive model that covers different aspects of mobile learning but does not address the impact of social software.

3 The Community of Inquiry framework developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2001) described important components of the online learning experience including social aspects, but their theory does not include the recent contribution of mobile technologies. A thorough examination of prevailing and emerging learning theories, software applications, and digital technologies is needed to clearly define the components that can support and improve online learning. An understanding of these elements, and their benefit to the online learning experience, will help in designing better courses and programs for the adult student. Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study is to contribute knowledge to the practice of developing and implementing online learning. More specifically, the study attempts to determine the essential components of a successful online learning experience. This study will help online education instructors to reliably produce and deliver online learning instruction. Statement of the Problem In order to create effective online learning, instructors must be able to consult an all encompassing review of literature that identifies the successful learning strategies, useful software, and beneficial technologies that make significant improvements to the quality of online learning. Research Questions 1. What learning theories facilitate the development of effective online instruction? 2. What software applications are most useful in supporting online learning activities? 3. What digital technologies are most beneficial to the online learning experience?

4 Significance of the Study The growing popularity of online learning has led to many new studies probing the various components of an online learning strategy. However, few studies have attempted to determine what elements are most important in order to make online learning successful. This study makes a significant contribution to research of online learning by thoroughly examining literature to identify the learning theories, software applications, and digital technologies that have exhibited success, or show significant promise to be effective. Indentifying successful learning strategies, useful software, and beneficial technologies that make significant improvements to the quality of student learning will help online education instructors develop effective ways to structure and navigate learning experiences. Definition of Terms E-learning: Defined as training delivered on a computer, (including DVD, CDROM, Internet, Intranet and virtual classrooms) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals. This includes e-courses developed primarily to provide information as well as those designed to build specific job-related skills (Clark & Mayer, 2007). M-learning: Defined as the use of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning (Douch, Savill-Smith, Parker, & Attewell, 2010). Mobile technologies/ Mobile devices: Defined as mobile phones, Smartphone’s, PDAs, MP3/ MP4 players (e.g. iPods), handheld games devices (Sony PSP, Nintendo

5 DS), digital cameras, Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs), mini notebooks or netbooks, handheld GPS or voting devices and specialist handheld technologies (Douch et al., 2010). Online Learning: Defined as the use of the Internet to access learning materials; to interact with the content, instructor, and other learners; and to obtain support during the learning process, in order to acquire knowledge, to construct personal meaning, and to grow from the learning experience (Ally, 2008) Social Networking: Defined as a type of online tool used to establish and maintain connection with friends and acquaintances (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) (Dabbagh & Reo, 2011). Social Software: Defined as a set of applications and services that support online social interaction and collaboration in education and facilitate collective action with rich exchange of multimedia information and evolution of aggregate knowledge. It is a subset of Web2.0 and a continuation of older computer-mediated communication and collaboration tools (Dabbagh & Reo, 2011; Schroeder, Minocha, & Schneider, 2010) Web 2.0: Defined as a term used to describe a broad range of web technologies, services, and tools. It is also used to define a renewed pattern of web technology adoption and innovation (Dabbagh & Reo, 2011).

6 CHAPTER 2 RESEARCH METHOD AND REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Overview The problem researched in this study was: What educational learning theories, software applications, and digital technologies should be used to improve online learning? A review of literature was conducted to answer the research questions stated. The scope of the study required research in three areas: (a) educational learning theory in online learning, (b) software applications for online learning, and (c) digital technologies for online learning. Methods and Procedures In order to achieve a purposive sample of articles that would address the problem researched through this study, a literature search was undertaken to locate as many different sources as possible. As a result, for the first step there were very few exclusion criteria. All types of online learning, e-learning, and mobile learning articles were considered, as were results from searches for learning theory and social software. Two main methods were employed for this search. The first was to search online journals and articles using the EBSCO host, and Science Direct databases through the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The second was using Google Scholar, and general Google searches on the Internet. Papers were initially selected based on title and abstract. The initial wide search yielded 378 papers. These papers were then considered more in detail and most were excluded based on the following factors:

7 • They were not of sufficient quality. The expectation was for them to have been accepted for a journal (paper), a conference (conference proceeding) or by a university (thesis or public report). Chapters from books published by universities or reputable organizations were also classified as sufficient quality. • • They were too specific to a particular population, learning type, or situation. They were not about adults or did not have sufficient methodology as to transfer the findings to adults. • They were not relevant in regard to the research questions presented. A search of the references from the relevant articles was frequently practiced. If accessible, those articles were read and their references were checked for relevant sources. This process was repeated until a point of saturation was reached. Relevance checks were then made on the 135 remaining papers to ensure coverage of the central or pivotal articles in the online learning field. The content of the 102 remaining papers was analyzed and quotations and statements were extracted from all papers, from the sections abstract, result and conclusion (or equivalent). These quotations were inserted into a database created for this purpose where they were interpreted into different categories in regard to the research questions. Finally, the quotations were also reviewed for relevancy and to make conclusions and recommendations for current practice and further study.

8 Review of Related Literature This review of literature will examine studies and other relevant articles that discuss educational learning theories in online learning and will identify the strategies to employ in order to effectively utilize the theories when developing online learning. This review also will explore articles on software applications used in online learning in order to ascertain those that are most useful in supporting online learning practices. Finally this review will discuss literature on digital technologies to pinpoint the devices that can be used to enhance the online learning experience. Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning The first research question of this study asked: What learning theories facilitate the development of effective online instruction? Ally (2008) proposed “the development of effective online learning materials should be based on proven and sound learning theories” (p.18). Therefore, before any learning materials can be developed, online educators must understand the principles of learning and how students learn. There are numerous educational learning theories that attempt to explain how students learn and the best way to teach them. In order to answer the first research question, the major theories of cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism will be discussed in this section, as will other theories of learning including andragogy, heutagogy, paragogy, peeragogy, and participatory learning. The second section: strategies for using educational learning theory in online learning, will discuss how to use these theories to improve online learning. Cognitivism. Cognitive theories focus on the way in which learning was defined and practiced in the last part of the 20th century (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Cognitive

9 theorists see learning as an internal process, and contend that the amount learned depends on the processing capacity of the learner, the amount of effort expended during the learning process, the depth of the processing and the learner’s existing knowledge structure (Ally, 2008). Constructivism. Social-constructivist pedagogies evolved later, and arose in conjunction with the development of two-way communication technologies, which created opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous interactions between and among students and teachers (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Social constructivism emphasizes the importance of the learner being actively involved in the learning process, as opposed to depending on the teacher to deliver knowledge while the learner passively receives it (Minocha, 2009). Swan (2005) proposed that social constructivism serves as a reminder that learning is essentially a social activity, and that meaning is constructed through communication, collaborative activity, and interactions with others. (Koole, 2009) argued that social constructivism can be taken to extremes, but the impact of interaction on human learning cannot be denied. Connectivism. Siemens (2005) proposed a contemporary theory of learning called connectivism that recognizes the impact of technology on society and ways of knowing. His viewpoint was that learning in the digital age is no longer dependent on individual knowledge acquisition, storage, and retrieval, but instead relies on the connected learning that occurs through interaction with various sources of knowledge and participation in communities of common interest, including social networks, and group tasks (Brindley, Walti, & Blaschke, 2009). Learning is seen as the process of building networks of information, contacts, and resources that are applied to real problems

10 (Siemens, 2005). Connectivism also assumes that information is plentiful and that the learner’s role is not to memorize or even understand everything, but to have the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Effective learners will be able to navigate through large complex quantities of information in order to retrieve the knowledge they seek, and will possess the skills necessary to create and effectively participate in learning communities and social networks (Brindley, Walti, & Blaschke, 2009). According to Siemens (2005) learning is a lifelong process, and most learning takes places outside of formal settings such as college, so these learning communities, will help foster the ability to be lifelong learners. Andragogy. The concept of directing your own learning and being a successful online learner matches with concepts of the adult learning theory of andragogy made popular by Malcolm Knowles (Hunter, 2008). According to Baird and Fisher (2005) with andragogy, learning is organized around experiences, and students learn what is worthwhile to apply in their own real-life. Hase and Kenyon (2000) proposed that andragogy, and the principles of adult learning that were derived from it, transformed face-to-face teaching and provided an argument for distance education based on the notion of self-directedness. Heutagogy. Hase and Kenyon (2000) also introduced heutagogy, an educational approach where it is the learner who determines what and how learning should take place. Luckin et al. (2011) argued that the increased use of collaborative and distributed learning environments is blurring the boundaries between formal and non-formal learning which requires “that we move on from these traditional, developmental, and temporally situated understandings of what it means to learn and what it means to be a learner” (p.

11 77). Hase and Kenyon (2000) further stressed that a heutagogical approach recognizes the need to be flexible in learning, in an environment where the teacher provides resources, but the learner designs the actual course they might take by negotiating the learning. Paragogy. Corneli and Danoff (2011a) also used Knowles principles to introduce a theory of peer-to-peer learning and teaching that they call paragogy. The theory of paragogy was developed in the context of two online courses that ran at Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). The key outcome was an outline of an analytical framework that applies to peer-to-peer or peer-based teaching-and-learning-between-equals. Corneli and Danoff (2011a) discussed their Paragogical principles: • Context as a decentered center. In paragogy, we recognize that we are not merely teachers or learners, but are actually co-creating the learning context as a whole. • Meta-learning as a font of knowledge. Here we are concerned both with efforts to “learn how to learn”, and efforts to learn how to support others in their learning efforts. • Peers provide feedback that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Learners must not simply seek confirmation of what they already know, but they must confront and make sense of difference as part of the learning experience. • Learning is distributed and nonlinear. Learning does not go in a straight line. In particular, involvement in co-creating the learning context becomes an important “strand” in the paragogical understanding of peer learning. • Realize the dream, then wake up! Without clear goals, there will be nothing to realize. Without critical thinking about goals (leading us to change them),

12 learning is a mostly passive game. (p. 3) Peeragogy. Rheingold (2012) also investigated the concepts of paragogy, which he prefers to call peeragogy to refer to any sort of self-organized peer learning. Rheingold envisioned future online learning as that in which motivated self-learners collaborate through various types of social media to create, deliver, and learn an agreed upon curriculum. Rheingold explained the background to the structure of his class: Five key ideas about learning have emerged from current research in the cognitive sciences. This research documents that people learn by: constructing their own understanding based on their prior knowledge, experiences, skills, attitudes, and beliefs; following a learning cycle of exploration, concept formation, and application; connecting and visualizing concepts and multiple representations; discussing and interacting with others; reflecting on progress and assessing performance. (para. 3) Participatory learning. While considering the future of learning, Davidson and Goldberg (2009) wrote The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which introduced the concept of participatory learning. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) proposed that: Participatory learning includes the many ways that learners (of any age) use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals, and ideas together. Participatory learning begins from the premise that new technologies are changing how people of all ages learn, play, socialize, exercise judgment, and engage in civic life. Learning

13 environments—peers, family, and social institutions (such as schools, community centers, libraries, museums, even the playground, and so on)—are changing as well. (p. 12) Strategies for Using Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning As evidenced by the preceding section, there are many schools of thought on learning and abundant research on the strengths and weaknesses of each theory. There is however, a lack of research that has compared the different theories and proclaimed one as more effective then the others for use in online learning. This study did not set out to directly compare the relevant theories, but instead endeavored to determine which strategies from these educational learning theories could be used to guide the design of online learning materials. The strategies, proposals, and frameworks from educational learning theories that can be used to improve online learning will be discussed in this next section. Cognitive strategies. Cognitive psychology looks at learning from an informationprocessing point of view, where the learner uses different types of memory during learning (Ally, 2008). Cognitive based strategies allow learners to perceive and attend to the information so that it can be transferred to working memory. Reducing extraneous processing helps prevent learners from wasting cognitive effort on activity that is not essential to learning the desired content (Mayer, 2008). Hiebert, Menon, Martin, & Bach (2009) suggested that a good layout could reduce extraneous processing, because text placed close to related graphics requires less effort to process than text separated from graphics. Learning improves when complex information is presented in smaller chunks, such as when a narrated animation is presented in learner-paced segments rather than

14 being presented in one continuous stream (Moore & Baer, 2010). To facilitate efficient processing in working memory, online learning materials should present between five and nine items on a screen (Ally, 2008). Information should be presented verbally, and visually as an addition to text, whenever possible to facilitate processing and the transfer to long-term memory (Mayer, 2008). Moore and Baer (2010) found that students learn better when knowledge is presented with a conversational rather than formal narrative style because an engaging voice creates a sense of social relationship, which makes the learner try harder to understand. Also, learners should be given the opportunity to complete assignments and projects that use real-life applications and information in order to facilitate the transfer of learning (Ally, 2008). Constructivist strategies. Anderson (2008) and Swan (2005) in their writings on online learning theory framed their studies on the implications for constructivist theory in online learning through the lenses of the How People Learn framework. This study will take the same approach. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) the authors of How People Learn contended that constructivism suggests we should be concerned with the design of particular kinds of learning environments, namely, learning environments that are learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment centered, and community-centered. These four perspectives need to be kept in balance for effective learning. “They need to be conceptualized as a system of interconnected components that mutually support one another” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999, p. 133). Learner centered. Environments that are learner-centered acknowledge constructivist views that individuals bring unique knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs to the learning experience, and that there are many ways to structure experience and

15 many different perspectives that can be gleaned from any circumstance or concept (Swan, 2005). Online learning poses many challenges to the development of learner-centered environments, since the majority of interactions and opportunities to discover students’ preconceptions and cultural perspectives are often limited by online constraints, which limit the users’ view of body language and nonverbal clues (Anderson, 2008). Twigg (2000) recommended that quality online learning should include initial assessments of students’ knowledge and skills, individual study plans involving a variety of interactive learning materials, and continuous assessment with immediate feedback. Anderson (2008) found that online learning teachers should also make time at the start of their learning interactions to provide incentive and opportunity for students to share useful details and unique aspects about themselves. This can be accomplished through electronic surveys or questionnaires, but virtual icebreakers or informal introductions can be more effective. Swan (2005) proposed personalizing the experience for each individual. Knowledge-centered. From a constructivist point of view, Knowledge –centered learning environments focus on the kinds and structures of information and activities that help students construct robust understandings of particular topics and disciplines (Bransford, et al., 1999). Knowledge construction is facilitated by good online interactivity with the instructor and other students as long as the student is willing to take the initiative (Ally, 2008). Online education is well suited for knowledge-centered learning, because it allows for the design and refinement of well-structured materials and activities that support a variety of ways in which information can be presented (Swan, 2005).

16 The Internet provides many opportunities for learners to dive deep into knowledge resources, providing an almost limitless way for them to grow their knowledge (Anderson, 2008) The exceptional access to information and resources which the Internet offers can be easily incorporated into course materials and activities (Swan, 2005). Ally (2008) argued that learners should be given control of the learning process to construct their own knowledge, rather than accepting that given by the instructor. Anderson and Dron (2011) submitted that a social-constructivist system shifts somewhat away from the teacher, who becomes more of a guide than an instructor, while continuing to provide the critical role of shaping the learning activities and designing the structure in which those activities occur. Because of the overwhelming amount of information available on the Internet, a skillful online instructor is still needed to provide the big-picture scaffolding upon which students can grow their own knowledge (Anderson, 2008). Assessment-centered. Constructivist approaches to assessment emphasize the importance of the individual’s processing of environmental feedback and on the design of assessment-centered environments that provide ongoing meaningful feedback to learners (Bransford, et al., 1999). Constructivism suggests that self-assessment is integral to learning, and that it is especially important to encourage learners to continuously construct and reconstruct their knowledge, and to evolve and change their understandings in response to feedback (Swan, 2005). As online learners interact with the content, they should be encouraged to apply, assess, synthesize, evaluate, and reflect on what they learn (Ally, 2008). Regular feedback is critical for online students because of the lack of regular face-to-face meetings (Swan, 2005). There are many opportunities for assessment

17 in online learning, those that involve the teacher, but also ones that exploit the influence and expertise of peers and external experts (Frydenberg, 2011). Draper (2009) argued for the use of multiple-choice questions combined with an electronic voting system to encourage deep learning. He calls this approach “catalytic assessment,” where he means that the “questions act as initiators either for peer interaction or directly for metacognition which subsequently leads to conceptual learning” (p. 292). Community-centered. Constructivist approaches towards the community-centered concept enable the critical social component of learning to be included in online learning designs (Anderson, 2008). Community-centered design is the degree to which a learning environment supports the social construction of knowledge and the development of a learning community, while also connecting students to the larger community and culture (Swan, 2005). Participants in online communities should share a sense of belonging, trust, expectation of learning, and commitment in order to fully participate and contribute to the community (Anderson, 2008). Though online learning may not appear to be wellsuited to the development of community-centered learning environments because of the value that is placed on independence of time and place, Anderson (2008) argued that social software could be the solution to accommodate the diverse needs of learners and teachers by allowing them to connect without placing constraints upon their independence. Connectivist strategies. Mcloughlin and Lee (2011) discussed connectivism and concluded that it strives to overcome the limitations of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, “by synthesizing the salient features and elements of several educational, social, and technological theories and concepts to create a new and dynamic theoretical

18 construct for learning in the digital age”(p. 48). Siemens (2006) stated that a decentralization of knowledge contributes to the enrichment of learning, giving more control to the end-user, so that learning becomes a process of gathering, adapting, and creating knowledge. Although Siemens described connectivism as a theory of learning, according to Bates (2011) Siemens’ position is more of a theory or view of the nature of knowledge rather than a theory of teaching and learning. “Thus there are hints of possible actions to be taken, but at this stage of development, there are no clear guidelines for teachers and learners” (Bates, 2011 p.32). Ally (2008) found that Siemens (2004) did propose some guidelines for designing learning materials. Ally elaborated on those guidelines: • Because of the information explosion, learners should be allowed to explore and research current information. Learners of the future need to be autonomous and independent learners so that they can acquire current information to build a valid and accurate knowledge base. • The rapid increase of information available from a variety of sources means that some information is not as important or genuine as other information. As a result, the learner must be able to identify important information from unimportant information. • Learning and knowledge rests in a diversity of opinions. As a result, learners must be allowed to connect with others around the world to examine others’ opinions and to share their thinking with the world.

19 • Learning should be delivered in a multi-channel system where different communication technologies are used to deliver the learning materials to facilitate optimal learning • Because of the information explosion, learners of the future must be willing to acquire new knowledge on an ongoing basis. Online teaching strategies must give learners the opportunity to research and locate new information in a discipline so that they can keep up-to-date in the field (p. 36) Pedagogy 2.0 strategies. In order to respond to the ideas of connectivism and how Web 2.0 tools and practices are challenging and redefining education and pedagogy, McLoughlin and Lee (2011) proposed a pedagogical framework, “Pedagogy 2.0,” that addresses the themes of participation in networked communities, personalization of the learning experience, and learner productivity in the form of knowledge creation and innovation. When they discussed the participation theme, McLoughlin and Lee (2011) advocated that a “more engaging, socially based models for teaching and learning are needed to replace the traditional, “closed classroom” models, which place emphasis on the institution and instructor” (p. 51). McLoughlin and Lee argued that Pedagogy 2.0 is reflective of the participation as opposed to the acquisition model of learning, which favors a shift toward student teacher partnerships, with teachers as co-learners in the learning process. Huijser and Sankey (2011) echoed this sentiment when they proposed that the role of teachers or instructors in the context of Pedagogy 2.0 becomes one of working collaboratively with learners to review, edit, and apply quality control

20 mechanisms to student work while also drawing on input from the wider community outside the classroom. For the personalization aspect of Pedagogy 2.0, McLoughlin and Lee (2011) challenged instructors to step outside the formal classroom to foster authentic learning that is personally meaningful and relevant to learners, in order to capitalize on the widely accepted view that learning effectiveness can be improved by giving the learner control over, and responsibility for their own learning. Ally (2008) discussed how to personalize online learning when he stated, “learning materials should include examples that relate to the learners so that they can make sense of the information. Assignments and projects should allow learners to choose meaningful activities to help them apply and personalize the information” (p. 31). Finally, for the learner productivity theme of Pedagogy 2.0, McLoughlin and Lee (2011) proposed that instructors should encourage students to create new and original ideas, concepts, and knowledge as this content is likely to be of value to the learner, peers, and future student cohorts, not to mention a wider Internet community. Furthermore, McLoughlin and Lee (2011) suggested that the wireless connectivity and data gathering capabilities of mobile devices (e.g., blogging, video recording, voice recording, texting) can be used by learners to simplify, speed up, and enhance peer-topeer content creation and collaboration. The concepts of collaboration and peer groups as discussed in Pedagogy 2.0 are also important elements of participatory learning, paragogy, and peeragogy. Participatory learning strategies. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) argued that participatory learning is happening now, since those coming into our educational system,

21 and adults too, rely on participatory learning by first turning to the Internet and the wisdom of crowds and smart mobs to help them make decisions about which car they should buy, which cell phone provider to use, and which restaurants to patronize. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) explained how early draft of their essay used Commentpress, the Web-based tool developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book as a variation of the blogging software, Wordpress. Commentpress allowed an online text to be annotated in a digital version of margin notes. In doing so, they created a shared and interactive experience, in which they were able to engage in online conversation with those reading and commenting on their work, which was a version of participatory learning. Paragogy strategies. For their theory of peer-to-peer learning and teaching that they call paragogy, Corneli and Danoff (2011b) recommended ways to implement paragogy: • Establish a group consensus for expectations/goals/social contract of the course and how each of them should be evaluated at its conclusion. • • Have learners designate learning goals that they then commit to stick with. Formalize a process for assisting peers (e.g. responding to questions, giving feedback on publicly posted work). • Develop explicit pathways for learner feedback to translate into changes to the learning environment. (Implementing paragogy, para.1) Peeragogy strategies. In designing his communications course, Rheingold (2012) also investigated the concepts of paragogy, which he prefers to call peeragogy. Rheingold explained how the class would be conducted:

22 The instructor, together with student teaching teams, invites and facilitates coexploration of and co-experimentation with social media theory and practice. The texts, discussions in the classroom, and online discourse revolve around collaborative inquiry in which students and instructor pursue questions that matter to us about issues raised by the communication media we use in the course. Knowledge is to be explored, interrogated, critically analyzed, played with, and collaboratively assembled in our online collaboratory by the class as a whole. The instructor will invite experimentation, suggest themes, model expected behaviors, point out connections, contextualize, ask, guide, contest, participate, provide resources, tell stories, respond to questions; but from the beginning, students are charged as individuals and as a group with assembling and making sense of the knowledge we harvest from these inquiries. (para. 2) This type of peer-to-peer and collaborative learning is occurring in classrooms like Rheingold’s, and is also popping up other places on the Internet. Websites like P2PU enable people to work together to learn a particular topic by completing tasks, assessing individual and group work, and providing constructive feedback. There are also websites like: Stack Exchange which is a network of question and answer sites on diverse topics, Open Study is described as a social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things, Quora is a collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by users. Software Applications for Online Learning The second question posed for this study was: what software applications are most useful in supporting online learning activities? In order to provide answers, an

23 examination of current research on software used for online learning was conducted. One type of software that many learning institutions use to mange their online learning is a Learning Management System (LMS) (Caplan & Graham, 2008). More recently, online instruction has turned to social software to connect with learners (Dabbagh & Reo, 2011). The pros and cons of using LMS’s and social software will be discussed in the next section, as will the ways to use social software tools in online learning. Learning Management Systems A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software package used to administer one or more courses to learners, and is typically a web-based system that allows learners to register for classes, complete courses and take assessments (Berking & Gallagher, 2011). Some well-known examples of Learning Management Systems are Blackboard, Moodle, and Desire2Learn (Caplan & Graham, 2008). Most universities have learning management systems (LMS) or virtual learning environments (VLE) of some kind, and these systems are widely regarded by university decision-makers as the preferred solution for the task of taking universities from traditional forms of teaching to the web-based environment (Tynan & Barnes, 2011). Questions have arisen though as to how successful the LMS-based approach has been. Väljataga, Pata, and Tammets (2011) said that since LMSs are usually only accessible to students of a particular course, the possibility to engage and interact with the outside world is rather limited. In general, students do not have a chance to choose or go beyond the barriers imposed by the institution. They can only adjust to the provided LMS application and its artificially created boundaries. Findings from research synthesized by Tynan and Barnes (2011) revealed “that critics have described many

24 LMS-based course materials as shovelware, and that problems are generalizable to many other institutions around the world” (p. 365). As the nature of Internet users evolves, so do their demands and expectations from e-learning, but Tynan and Barnes (2011) also found that the installation of an institutional LMS tends not to transform pedagogies, and that teaching staff just use the technologies they can incorporate into their teaching activity most easily, or that offer simpler solutions for what they already do, rather than those which radically change teaching and learning practices. Anderson (2008) stated that there have been attempts to change teaching and learning practice by basing courses upon cohort groups of students interacting either through real-time audio, video conferencing, or asynchronously through text conferencing with a teacher and other students, but these have not been demonstrated to be cost-effective. Teachers also find such models of delivery take more time than equivalent classes delivered on campus. Tynan and Barnes (2011) declared: Perhaps the time has come to transfer management of the learning to academics and students, to take it out of the hands of the LMS managers or administrators. In truth, they probably will not miss what they never had. The growing range of Web 2.0 tools mean that most universities can probably well do without the expensive, “one- size-fits-all” proprietary systems that have been the focus of so much effort and expenditure. (p. 373) Väljataga et al. (2011) argued that the need for instructors to be prepared to select and combine the right Web 2.0 software tools and services to support individual and collaborative tasks to enrich learning environments is becoming an educational

25 imperative. There is a need to steer academic staff towards tools that leverage the speed and user friendliness of Web 2.0, and simplify the task of producing new forms of teaching materials (Tynan & Barnes, 2011). Social Software Web 2.0 with its accompanying set of social software tools is seen to hold considerable potential for addressing the needs of today’s diverse students who demand flexible, ubiquitous, and media-rich learning experiences that are customized, personalized, and provide opportunities for networking and collaboration (McLoughlin & Lee, 2011). Downes (2005) noted that social software tools allow learning content to be created and distributed in ways that move beyond pre-packaged course content consumed by students. Anderson (2005) commented that social software offers a learner freedom to engage in a learning relationship with other learners and facilitates collaboration between individuals who are separated by location and time. This is in contrast with the more traditional approach of individuals working in isolation and often in competition with each other, as the interactivity of Web 2.0 social software provides two-way communication that lends itself to co-operation and the development of a learning community (Minocha, 2009). In a study from Europe examining over 200 cases on the impact of social computing for learning, Redecker (2009) found that social software: (a) can facilitate learning processes by making study material more readily available, which in turn supports different individual learning styles; (b) allows for an improved knowledge exchange, which supports the individual’s personal knowledge and resource management and contributes to the personalization of learning processes; (c) can contribute to

26 increasing the individual’s performance and academic achievement; (d) can affect the enjoyment of learning and enhance motivation which empowers learners to actively engage in the development of personal learning skills and competences; (e) can contribute to the development of higher order cognitive skills like reflection and metacognition, increasing self-directed learning skills and enabling individuals to better develop and realize their personal potential. Schroeder, Minocha, and Schneider (2010) conducted a SWOT analysis on data from 20 social software initiatives in UK-based education institutions to identify the experiences and concerns of students and educators. Their analysis of the case data identified a number of strengths through which social software supported teaching and learning. Specifically, social software can contribute to the building of social relationships, improve learning, and enhance communication between students and educators. Bates (2011) proposed that Web 2.0 tools could facilitate new models of design for education and training that will better prepare teachers and learners for a knowledge-based society. Social software tools enable learners to not only find, identify, manipulate, and evaluate information and knowledge, but also to become active coproducers of knowledge rather than passive consumers of content (McLoughlin & Lee, 2011). Bates (2011) however, rejected the notion that the tools by themselves will revolutionize education and make formal institutions redundant, because many learners require structure and guidance and the new technologies need to be integrated with a variety of educational approaches if all learners are to be accommodated. Schroeder et al. (2010) also saw weaknesses when using social software. Specific weaknesses included: (a) high workload issues by students who perceived the use of

27 social software as an extra task in addition to their course requirements, so being involved in interactions in a social software environment was regarded as having an impact on their flexibility and independence; (b) high workload issues by educators who described how the steps in setting up a social software initiative required a considerable amount of time and effort; (c) perceived limitations in the quality of interaction as students repeatedly pointed out the difficulties in maintaining proper forms of interaction in social software environments and concerns about finding the right tone for providing constructive feedback; (d) uncertainty about ownership and assessment since a collaborative approach to content creation and validation creates difficulties in an environment where assessment is often based on the achievements of individuals or predefined groups. McLoughlin and Lee (2011) also noticed issues and challenges in research that showed many students currently lack the competencies necessary to navigate and select relevant sources from the overabundance of information available. In an age of personal publishing and user-generated content, digital literacy and information fluency skills are requirements for students who need to develop expertise and confidence in finding, evaluating, creating, and sharing ideas, which often calls for complex critical thinking (Brown, 2005). In addition, Schroeder et al. (2010) revealed analysis showing that in order to create a dynamic collaborative environment it is not enough to just set up social software activities and leave it to the students to collaborate and share. It is important to pro-actively foster the use of these tools and train students on how to communicate and interact within these environments.

28 Social Software Tools The term Web 2.0 or Social Software covers a wide range of software tools that enable users to interact and share ideas with other users, primarily via the Internet. “These digital applications include those for blogging, podcasting, collaborative content (e.g. wikis), social networking (e.g. MySpace, Facebook), multimedia sharing (e.g. Flickr, YouTube), social tagging (e.g. Deli.cio.us) and social gaming (e.g. Second Life) (Redecker, 2009 p. 31). Blogs. A blog is commentary or news on a particular subject or from a particular perspective written as an online diary. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs (Minocha, 2009). Blogs are online public writing environments, which enable a single author or a group of authors to write and publicly display articles, called posts, which are listed in reversed chronological order (Redecker, 2009). Blogging enables unique opportunities for educators to improve communication with students, increase depth of learning through reflection, and enable the formation of diverse viewpoints and perspectives (Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009). Commenting, one of the main features of blogs enhances the advancement of writing constructive comments and feedback, as well as strengthening social interaction (Väljataga, 2009). Examples of the educational uses of blogs include: (a) a group of bloggers using their individual blogs to build up a body of interrelated knowledge via posts and comments (Minocha, 2009); (b) teachers using a blog to update learners on course activities, post reflections on in class conversations, and to share articles and related course materials (Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009); (c) students using blogs as digital portfolios to collect and present their work (Redecker, 2009). A blog can be used as a

29 tool for publishing and for sharing both between students as well as among a larger community. Blogs provide an opportunity to make a learning process, and learning itself more visible to others (Väljataga, 2009). Wikis. A wiki is a website that allows users to collaboratively add, remove and otherwise edit and change content, usually text (Redecker, 2009). Whereas blogs allow individual expression, wikis overwrite individuality to create a collaborative resource (Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009). Wikis are often more collaborative than blogs and so are regarded as true social networking tools (Minocha, 2009). Wiki software can track changes as users make them, making it possible to revert back to an earlier version of a page (Frydenberg, 2011). Dabbagh, and Reo (2011) described a wiki as a shared interactive space or platform for fostering collaborative knowledge construction, and proposed that Wikis epitomize the social constructivist idea that knowledge derives from social interactions, since it is a social software tool that makes it easy for multiple users to create and edit web pages collaboratively. Alexander (2006) considered how wikis fit into the world of higher education, and viewed them as useful tools for a variety of needs, from student group learning to faculty department work to staff collaborations. Alexander pictured writing exercises based on these tools, building on the established body of collaborative composition practice. A wiki could also involve large numbers of learners who contribute content, provide feedback on existing content, or act as site editors to correct inaccurate content (Dabbagh & Reo, 2011). Social Bookmarking. A social bookmarking service allows users to record

30 (bookmark) web pages, and tag those records with significant words (tags) that describe the pages being recorded (Redecker, 2009). Social bookmarking is a type of personal knowledge management tool that allows users to save and categorize a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others while also taking bookmarks saved by others and saving them to their own collection (Afonin, 2009). Redecker (2009) found that the concept of tagging has been widened far beyond website bookmarking and has been integrated in many social computing applications to allow a variety of digital items like photos, videos, music, blog posts, and podcasts to be socially tagged. Social bookmarking tools facilitate informal learning by permitting users to discover resources and find people with similar interests by exploring the bookmark lists of other users (Afonin, 2009). There are advantages to using social bookmarking sites over storing bookmarks privately in a browser on a local computer, as a user’s bookmarks are stored in the cloud of the Internet, so they are available from any browser when logged in to the site (Frydenberg, 2011). Social bookmarking sites are a useful research tool for teaching and learning purposes. Mejias (2006) referenced the use of bookmarking in the classroom by students who contributed articles to an important reading list for the class, thereby creating their own research community. Students decided on the most popular news articles by voting for them, and then the stories that received the largest number of votes appeared on the site’s front page. Students drew upon the wisdom of crowds to assume that if many people are tagging a particular article, it is an indication that it is probably worth reading for information on that topic (Frydenberg, 2011). Because tags are assigned by people rather than programs they can be a good measure of the quality of a resource, and may be

31 a more effective way of locating relevant content than a simple web search (Frydenberg, 2011). Social Networking. Social networking services can be broadly defined as Internet based social spaces designed to facilitate communication, collaboration and content sharing across networks of contacts (Cachia, 2008). Examples of social networking services include: Facebook, MySpace, and Google Plus (for social networking/socializing), Twitter (for social networking/microblogging), LinkedIn (for professional networking), Second Life (virtual world) and Elgg (for knowledge accrual and learning) (Redecker, 2009). These services enable users to connect to friends and colleagues, to send mail and messages, to blog, to meet new people and to post personal information profiles, which may consist of blogs, photos, videos, images, and audio content (Cachia, 2008). When integrated into education and training, social networking invites for more creative and motivating ways of learning by strengthening the social and explorative aspects of learning (Redecker, 2009). Duffy (2011) proposed that Facebook could be used for teaching and learning, with benefits arising from its ability to enable students to share information, knowledge, and artifacts within a community linked through members’ personal profiles and the associations between them. Duffy (2011) further argued that Facebook offers many educational benefits by: Allowing students to demonstrate critical thinking, take creative risks, and make sophisticated use of language and digital literacy skills, and in doing so, the students acquire creative, critical, communicative, and collaborative skills that are useful in both educational and professional contexts. (p. 288)

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Personal Learning Environments Web 2.0 social software tools can be used for formal learning however, in informal learning they also can be combined together to form a Personal Learning Environment. As a reaction to institutionally controlled Learning Management Systems (LMSs), which still have the instructor at the center of the educational experience, Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have become quite popular. Kop (2010a) stressed that Web 2.0 technologies with their built-in possibilities for communication and collaboration have enabled learners to create personalized learning experiences, and possibly ushered in a new era of informal learning. Attwell (2007) proposed a Personal Learning Environment based on the idea that learning will take place in different settings and situations and will not be provided by a single learning provider. PLEs also recognize the role of the individual in organizing his or her own learning. Väljataga, Pata, and Tammets (2011) asserted that using a subjective, pedagogical approach to explain a PLE offers a broader, more natural view of what comprises a personal environment in which learning occurs. In their view, a PLE is a knowledge network or a cognitive space that is constantly shifting. The idea of the PLE aims to include and bring together all types of learning, including informal and formal learning, workplace learning, learning driven by problem solving and learning motivated by personal interest (Attwell, 2007). Kop (2010a) explained how people would learn when using a Personal Learning Environment by citing a model showing that most learning experiences are based on six

33 components: gathering of information, social interaction, activity, reflection, and conceptualization and repurposing of information, though researchers disagree on which components are most important. These elements can all be incorporated into a technologically driven learning environment, but the challenge would be in finding the correct interaction, as this relationship can greatly affect the quality and depth of the learning that takes place. A Personal Learning Environment is not an application. A PLE is comprised of all the different tools a person uses in their everyday life for learning. Many of these tools will be based on social software (Attwell, 2007). The features of the PLE design may be achieved using a combination of digital technologies (laptops, mobile phones, tablets), applications (newsreaders, email clients, browsers, calendars) and services (social bookmarking services, weblogs, wikis) within what may be thought of as the practice of personal learning using technology (Wilson et al., 2006). Kop (2010a) suggested that editing and publishing tools would also be important for learners to repurpose the information, to reflect on the information, add to it and publish it for instance, by producing a blog or video. This will help the user to create new content and support distribution to other sources. Kop (2010a) also maintained that a PLE is different from other information gathering tools as it aims to provide learners with particular information that is “centered on the student and would constitute the student’s personal educational record, portfolio, business and educational contacts, communications and creativity tools, library and resource subscription management, and related services” (p. 2). In essence it would combine all the tools and applications “a learner needs to start a learning journey with

34 recommendations of information based on earlier searches and personal profile, in addition to feedback from others on their learning” (Kop, 2010a, p. 2) In their work on the iCamp project, that set out to encourage innovative educational practices within European higher education, Pata and Väljataga (2009) found that students who want to develop a technology plan for creating personal environments in order to support their own work and study activities need to be competent in terms of using and managing technology. Their findings therefore suggested that putting together a PLE including tools and services, resources and people, often requires a trial and error approach, which in turn can help to advance the necessary skills and knowledge needed for self-direction in education. With an informal PLE there is no teacher or tutor to guide learners and to challenge their ideas and beliefs or to help in making sense of the information, instead the onus is on learners themselves to make these judgments and to verify information and knowledge, or find knowledgeable others who can help them with this (Kop, 2010a). Martindale and Dowdy (2010) contend that the technical hurdles for PLEs can be considerable since they are generally comprised of several social software applications, and the skills necessary to manage all of these applications are considerable. The frequency at which Web 2.0 applications arrive, update, and sometimes disappear creates a challenge to learners looking for new components for their PLEs. Regardless of the possible complexity in fashioning a PLE, Web 2.0 tools have proven to be effective in enhancing communication in the learning process. Kop (2010b) found that both learners and tutors singled out Web 2.0 technologies for their effectiveness in the facilitation of online communication. Kop (2010b) argued that “if the

35 tools are being used for what they do well, e.g. chat for socializing, wikis for group work, blogs as reflective diaries that people can respond to, they can play a significant role in the facilitation of a meaningful learning experience” (p. 268). Digital Technologies for Online Learning The third research question was: what digital technologies are most beneficial to the online learning experience? Online learning was made possible because of digital technology. Early computer based training that connected users to outside servers or the Internet seemed groundbreaking at the time. The user could often engage in learning at any time of their choosing, but the place was fixed, most often in a computer lab, or in front of their home computer. With the advent of laptops and more sophisticated Wi-Fi systems students gained some freedom of movement, but what did not change was the experience of learning online. In fact Schnieders (2011) claimed that online learning really has not changed much since 1996. New mobile technologies show promise in bringing a new experience to online learning. McGreal and Elliot (2008) affirmed that mobile computing is here, and that wireless devices are being chosen over desktop and even laptop computers, not only as the preferred Internet access tool, but also for most common computing applications. The annual Horizon Report on emerging technologies in education identifies e-books and mobile devices as moving closer to mainstream adoption (GSM Association, 2011a). New innovations in mobile have emerged that Schnieders (2011) proposed, “will result in more powerful and engaging instruction that should translate into improved learning outcomes and retention” (p.1). Traxler (2009) asserted, “mobile devices are changing societal discourse and knowledge” (p.10). DeWaard et al. (2011) in their study

36 of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format, stated: “that there are currently two major technologies that have great influence on educational discourse, social media and mobile technologies, both of which impact learning in a profound way” (p. 96). Current research on existing mobile devices in education will follow this first section on mobile learning. Mobile Learning With the global volume of mobile cellular subscriptions projected to grow to 5.3 billion (Kainz, 2011) and an estimated 1.2 billion people carrying Web-enabled mobile phones (Gartner, 2010), the use of technology for learning is quickly becoming ubiquitous. That is, people no longer see it as separate from regular learning, and it is viewed as part of the tools that trainers, instructional designers, instructors, and others who design or deliver instruction use to impact skills and performance (Shank, 2007). A mobile device overcomes the limitations of access to course information and other applications by allowing learners to disseminate information and complete other course work even when they are away from their hard-wired Internet connections (Motiwalla, 2007). Mobile learning or m-learning can be any form of learning that happens when mediated through a mobile device (Herrington, Herrington, Mantei, Olney, & Ferry, 2009). It is also defined as the use of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning (Douch et al., 2010). Traxler (2009) discussed mobile learning in this way: "Mobile learning has always implicitly meant mobile elearning and its history and development have to be understood as both a continuation of

37 'conventional' e-learning and a reaction to this 'conventional' e-learning and to its perceived inadequacies and limitations." (p. 1) The key features of using mobile technology for learning are its personalization capability and extended reach. This has attracted more and more learners, especially adult learners, for whom the work-life balance is critical (Motiwalla, 2007). Mobile technology provides learners with choice over and ownership of their learning. Combined with good planning, mobile technologies can encourage creativity and innovation by both learners and teachers (Douch et al., 2010). Koole (2009) described mobile learning as almost the perfect way to learn since mobile allows interaction with learning systems anytime, anywhere, and adds social aspects that enable communication and collaboration with multiple individuals. Griffin (2010) argued that the idea of having learning separated by an extended period of time from when a person actually attempts to use the learning has to be challenged. Griffin insisted that few learners today want the information weeks and even months in advance. They actually would like to have specific topics and refresher learning available ‘on-demand’ minutes or even seconds before they will need to use it. Mobile learning in action. In their report of case studies focusing on the use of mobile technologies, Douch et al. (2010) described research by the Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET) who found that the use of mobile technologies in work-based and vocational learning contexts can result in increased: engagement with learning, flexibility of learning, learner retention and achievement and personalization of learning. Cambridge Training and Development Ltd., an active participant in more than 20 mlearning trials across Europe, has found success with a blended approach using mobile

38 devices, media, and other group activities (Stead, 2005). Blending mobile technologies into the mix resulted in improvements to learning accessibility, collaboration and flexibility (Khaddage, Lanham, & Zhou, 2009). Qualcomm, a mobile technology company, began Project K-Nect to determine if smartphones could play a role in enhancing student engagement and learning. There was a positive correlation between students who actively participated in Project K-Nect and their final algebra proficiency level along with a 30 percent increase in proficiency on a standardized exam given by the State of North Carolina, compared to classes not in Project K-Nect, but taught by the same teacher (GSM Association, 2011b). In their study of MobileMOOC, DeWaard et al. (2011) found that combining mobile technologies and the MOOC format could benefit learning communities by: connecting peers to construct new knowledge, encouraging knowledge exchange through dialogue, and enabling patterns of meaning to form across regions and institutions by pulling large parts of society into the conversation. Despite this type of evidence, higher education does not seem to be embracing mlearning as a way of improving their student’s online experience. Peters (2007) reported that there appears to be limited adoption even though many education providers recognize the benefits of m-learning. Peters attributed this lack of adoption to the age and ability of teachers, the cost of providing m-learning devices and infrastructure, and the slow rate of change in many large educational institutions. Park (2011) noted that instructional designers and teachers also need more guidance about how to utilize emerging mobile technologies and integrate them into their teaching more effectively. Mobile learning theories. Traxler (2009) pointed out that despite the many

39 forms of, and increasing services offered by mobile learning, it is still immature in terms of its technological limitations and pedagogical considerations. Park (2011) noticed the lack of a solid theoretical framework that can guide effective instructional design as a serious issue faced by mobile learning. Herrington et al. (2009) argued that the current use of mobile devices in higher education (essentially content delivery) is pedagogically conservative and regressive. Their adoption is following a typical pattern where educators revert to old pedagogies as they come to terms with the capabilities of new technologies. Conventional courseware is based on behavioral and cognitive models of learning developed in the 60s and 70s and may not apply well to the psychology of today’s learners (Kadle, 2010). Sharples (2000) contended that advances in technology have enabled devices to become more personalized, user-centered, mobile, ubiquitous, and durable, which offers the possibility for m-learning to support both the social constructive theory of learning and the conversation theory. Motiwalla (2007) developed a framework to extend learning into a mobile environment that supports the constructive learning and conversation theories by taking into account the technological attributes and pedagogical affordances of mobile devices. “From the point of view of socio-constructivist and socio-cultural approaches, mobile technologies and especially social software provide interesting possibilities for developing teaching and learning toward a more collaborative direction” (Vesisenaho et al., 2010, p. 274). Belshaw (2011) argued that in mobile learning the mobility of the technology is not as important as the mobility and flexibility of the user, and recommended focusing on the learner in mobile learning to ensure that the emphasis is placed upon pedagogy rather than hardware or software. Brown and Haag (2011)

40 remarked that “It’s not about devices – it’s about capabilities and it’s not about the technology – it’s about the experience” (p. 19). Mobile Device Technologies There are some disadvantages and advantages of using mobile technologies for learning. Hutchison et al. (2008) mentioned the limited storage capacity, reliance on a battery for power, and that the small display screen on many phones still presents problem for older learners. In addition, Hutchison et al. found that the lack of a common platform among the various device manufacturers complicates the development of content. Handheld mobile devices and cellular services are significantly less expensive than PCs and laptops with fixed Internet service, (Elias, 2011) and the rapid improvement of new mobile products with their advanced functions and numerous applications may mean that the technical limitations of mobile devices are a temporary concern (Park, 2011). The improvement has indeed been rapid, as there are now more capable mobile devices, which afford a wider array of possible content delivery methods. As new devices continue to enter the market, new features and new capabilities are appearing at an accelerated pace. Stefan, Stanescu, Stefan and Mouzakitis (2011) remarked that the pace of change and the short life of some products has added unwelcome complexity for researchers, and it is not unusual to witness a particular model being replaced in the course of a research project, which makes longitudinal studies, and replicating a study difficult. This may be a reason for the lack of available research studies on most devices. While reviews are common, investigations on aspects of usability or advantages to learning are harder to find. Despite limited research into the capabilities and positive

41 impact of mobile devices, there is a growing number that are being deployed in all types of schools. Mobile devices in action. Douch et al. (2010) described research by the Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET) in testing all types of digital technologies: iPods with work-based construction and hair and beauty learners, netbooks and mobile phones with construction learners, Sony PSPs with electrical engineering students, Nintendo DSs with disaffected and disengaged youths and learners. Molenet reported generally good results while also saying that allowing learners to use their own phones in conjunction with a netbook may be a good option for the future. Khaddage, Chonka, and Zhou (2009) investigated these mobile phone brands: Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericson, and the Apple iPhone. They looked at what technologies these mobile phones support that can help students view and retrieve learning content without any problems. The iPhone came out on top in most of their tested criteria such as quality graphics, sound, camera capabilities and battery life. Google entered the education market with the launch of the new Chromebook, a cloud-based laptop. GSM Association (2011a) viewed the Chromebook as a “potential game changer for education because it lessens the need for 1:1 devices and offers a different business model”(p. 9). Google leases the Chromebooks to educational institutions for a $20 monthly fee. That fee includes tech support, and software updates (GSM Association, 2011a). Shankland (2012) reported that despite having been criticized for slow performance, Google has recently won over three school districts with its Chromebook by bringing more than 27,000 of the browser-based laptops to Iowa,

42 Illinois, and South Carolina. The Chromebooks use Google Apps, Google's online suite for word processing, e-mail, presentations, and other applications. Seton Hall University announced in 2011 that it was the first higher education institution in the U.S. to use Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet PC, distributing more than 400 tablets amongst students and faculty in the Sciences, Honors and School of Business Leadership Programs (Fisher, 2011). Fisher (2011) also reported that the University is making the 10.1-inch, Android 3.1 tablets a central part of its Mobile Computing Program as well as an essential teaching device. Seton Hall students will use a variety of the ThinkPad tablet’s pre-loaded applications, along with a University developed custom chemistry science application that aims to expand the classroom experience by delivering more interactive experiment processes for students (Fisher, 2011). Google Android devices. Through the Android Educational Outreach program, Google granted over 300 Android-powered mobile phones to 40 universities across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (Harper, 2012). This is the second year they have awarded mobile phones to universities to support mobile related project work in university teaching and research. Most universities developed proprietary applications for use on the devices ranging from flash card apps to mapping tools (Harper, 2012). Shanmugapriya and Tamilarasi (2012) used the Mobile Adaptive Test (MAT) on Android based mobile devices and found “that the open-architecture, multimedia and graphics rendering capability, rich set of user interfaces, and gesture and sensor based controls make the Android a much preferred platform for mobile devices and highly suitable for developing and implementing m-learning applications” (p. 161).

43 Some reviewers have found inconsistencies in the Android interface reporting lags when scrolling in windows, pages stuttering while loading, and undesirable performance on pinching to zoom in or out on web pages (Kendrick, 2011). Judge (2011) saw inconsistency and unpredictability for the end user in many Android apps, which are often more concerned with functionality then style as opposed to iOS that has consistency across all apps. When mapping out the functionality and user-experience of the Android platform, Ikonen (2010) found that there is a possibility that compatibility of the Android platform can fragment as manufacturers continue to expand the platform to meet the needs of their own devices, which may result in some applications not being compatible with all devices. However, Tabletsatwork.com (2012) saw the Android operating system, and Android-powered tablets gaining more advocates in schools across the country, because of their integration with Google Apps. Tabletsatwork.com also argued that Android tablets are more affordable, make it easier to share and store information, and enable better application management. Pierce (2011) reported on the Kineo, which is also built on Google’s OS. It acts as an eBook reader with Internet access, and enables school leaders to specify the applications that students can use on the device by locking down apps they do not want students to use. Its messaging capabilities have been disabled to make sure students use it for learning. Its replaceable battery can last for up to 12 hours on single charge, and is priced at $299, which is less than Apple iPad. In May of 2011 Brainchild Corp. reported the Kineo sold out of its initial production run of 5,000 Kineos, which were delivered in April to school districts in ten states (Brainchild, 2011). Pickens (2011) reviewed the device and remarked that “unfortunately Brainchild's approach is short sighted and it has

44 deliberately chosen to limit its device to an incredibly small feature set in order to somehow ensure that students are using the Kineo only for education”(para.3). Pickens also commented about how Brainchild removed the camera and gutted the web browser so that children will not be able to use the Kineo for anything other then teacher allowed content. However, Pickens did finally cite Brainchild as doing a few things right when they made the Kineo virtually indestructible with an especially rugged display. Apple Devices. Many schools, colleges and universities have been experimenting with Apple devices, varying from campus-wide distributions to small-scale, single-class pilots (GSM Association, 2011b). Rao (2012) reported that there are currently 1.5 million iPads in use in educational institutions and schools and 20,000 education and learning applications that have been built for the iPad. Apple’s iPad has been heralded as a device that can take personal computing to the next level and a game changer for education (Kumar, 2010). Griffin (2010) remarked that until April 2010, the mobile learning market was at its tipping point, but the launch of the Apple iPad has likely tipped this market into wide-scale acceptance and growth by bringing heightened awareness in homes and offices of what can be achieved on the move with a mobile device. GSM Association (2011a) saw Apple’s potential to change the learning landscape, since they manufacture devices, support content development (apps) and distribute educational content through their App Store and iTunes U. Rao (2012) reported that iTunes U has seen over 700 million downloads and that 1,000 university and colleges around the world are using iTunes U, which is home to free lectures, videos, books, and podcasts from learning institutions. GSM Association (2011a) also found that Apple has been conducting trials, supporting educators and donating used iPads to Teach for America,

45 and has supported many pilots and successful implementations of Apple devices in the classroom. They saw Apple devices as attractive not only to consumers and learners, but also to the education sector due to their high levels of functionality and low levels of training, support and maintenance. Apple device studies. In 2010, Trinity College of Melbourne Australia launched The ‘Step Forward’ Pilot Project, which was designed to introduce and test iPads for August entry students, and to promote educational innovation and technological competence among Trinity College academic staff (Jennings, Anderson, Dorset, & Mitchell, 2011). Findings from Jennings et al. indicated overwhelming support for the iPads by both students and staff. Other findings revealed that: ▪ iPads are effective, durable, reliable and achieve their educational aims of going further, faster and with more fun. ▪ iPads have advantages for TCFS over other technologies such as netbooks and laptops. ▪ iPads are not a replacement for desktop/laptop computers or other educational technologies but are an enhancement. (Jennings et al., 2011, p. 1) The University of San Francisco (USF) launched a six-month iPad study that included 40 of their faculty. The intention of the study was to review, experiment and share potential uses of the iPad in higher education (Bansavich, 2011). Findings from Bansavich revealed the USF faculty’s desire for increased opportunities for collaboration, ongoing support for technology innovation projects, and continued interest in monitoring

46 the iPad in support of teaching and learning, specifically in the use of electronic textbooks and app development. Angst and Malinowski (2010) reported on a project that was initiated with the intent of gaining insight into how Notre Dame University could build an ecosystem to support the creation, distribution, and consumption of ePubs and eBooks on both present and future eReader devices. The research project measured technology acceptance, technology value, and use of iPad devices. Findings from Angst and Malinowski suggested the greatest value of the iPad might not be its ability to function as an eBook reader but instead its capacity to function as a consolidator or aggregator of information. Angst and Malinowski also found that a statistically significant proportion of students felt the iPad: (a) makes class more interesting, (b) encourages exploration of additional topics, (c) provides functions and tools not possible with a textbook, (d) helps students more effectively manage their time. Abilene Christian University (ACU) announced findings from its Connected Mobile Learning Program, a three-year investigation and empirical research study based on Apple's iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In a highly-controlled scientific study, ACU students who used an iPad to annotate text performed at a rate 25 percent higher on questions regarding transfer of information than their counterparts who used only paper (Gertner, 2011). ACU also found that the iPad provided increased access and engagement for students, along with high levels of satisfaction. Graduate students in an ACU online education program reported a 95 percent satisfaction rate using the iPad to accomplish their online coursework, citing convenience and the device's range of

47 features. The tablet also provided ease of use in conducting research and activities that promote higher-order thinking (Abilene Christian University, 2011). Finally, the following statistics may demonstrate the impact that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have had on consumers, who may or may not use their devices for learning. McCraken (2011) reported that CEO Tim Cook stated that Apple had sold 250 million iOS devices to date, including iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads. McCraken also reported that Google CEO Larry Page stated that 190 million Android devices had been activated (since Google does not directly sell the devices, they talk about units in terms of activations, not sales). In conclusion, this review of literature examined research on educational learning theories in online learning and the strategies to employ in order to effectively utilize the theories when developing online learning. This review also covered the software applications that are most useful in supporting online learning and also discussed literature on the digital technologies that are most beneficial to the online learning experience.

48 CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Summary of Findings The major educational learning theories used for online learning are cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism. Other theories of learning include andragogy, heutagogy, paragogy, peeragogy, and participatory learning. Each of these theories has aspects that can be used to develop online instruction. However to be most effective, the instruction should be centered on the learner, and should consider what the learner already knows, how they like to learn, and what they want to learn. Less emphasis should be placed on the instructor. In fact the instructor should become more of a guide, advisor or a co-learner during their participation in the learning activity. Online learning should also be social in that it enables participation in learning with networked communities, social groups and peers. This networked participation and the increase in the amount of information available though, requires students and instructors to develop effective ways to structure and navigate learning experiences. The growing value of Web 2.0 tools has shifted the focus of online learning software from expensive, one- size-fits-all proprietary Learning Management Systems towards software tools and services that support individual and collaborative tasks and simplify the chore of producing new forms of teaching materials. Web 2.0 social software tools have been found to: facilitate learning processes, improve knowledge exchange, increase academic achievement and the enjoyment of learning, contribute to the building of social relationships, and enhance communication between students and

49 educators. Social software tools in the form of blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and social networking have proven to be effective in enhancing communication in the learning process. In addition, a personal learning environment which is based on social software tools has been found to bring together all types of learning, including informal and formal learning, workplace learning, learning driven by problem solving and learning motivated by personal interest. Mobile technologies in the form of smart phones and tablets are becoming the preferred choice for: retrieving ideas and information from the Internet, connecting with peers and social contacts, producing and publishing content. The affordances of these technologies have enabled e-learning to evolve into mobile learning. Mobile learning allows interaction with learning systems anytime, anywhere, and adds social aspects that enable communication and collaboration with multiple individuals. Research on mobile learning has found that it can result in increased: engagement with learning, flexibility of learning, learner retention and achievement and personalization of learning. A wide array of new mobile devices continues to enter the market employing new features and new capabilities. Despite limited research into the capabilities and positive impact of mobile devices, there is a growing number that are being deployed in all types of schools, with Apple and Google Android devices most predominant. Tablet devices have shown the greatest promise for producing game changing results in studies performed by higher education institutions. Apple’s iPad in particular has been found to increase access and engagement for students, encourage exploration of additional topics, provide functions and tools not possible with a textbook, and help students more effectively manage their time.

50 Conclusions Educational Learning Theory in Online Learning What learning theories facilitate the development of effective online instruction? All the major and some minor educational learning theories can play a role in designing effective online instruction. Cognitive based strategies can be used to influence the presentation of learning materials to a student in order for them to most effectively process and retain the information. Constructivist strategies can be utilized to design the environment in which a student conducts their learning. An environment that is most importantly learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered. Connectivist strategies can serve as a guide for designing an effective and relevant program of learning that considers the impact of modern technologies, and facilitates participation in communities of learning. The adult learning theory of andragogy and the approach to learning of heutagogy describe the essential principals that a designer of instruction should keep in mind. That online learning instruction should be about the learner, what they want to learn, and what is worthwhile to apply in their own real-life. How to go about designing this type of instruction has not been clearly determined. Pedagogy 2.0 has issued the challenge for instructors to step outside the traditional box, to foster authentic learning that is personally meaningful and relevant to learners. Some trails have begun formally by Rhiengold (2012) using his theory of peeragogy, and informally every day on the Internet by learners using the wisdom of crowds, smart mobs, and crowdsourcing to obtain their knowledge.

51 Software Applications for Online Learning What software applications are most useful in supporting online learning activities? Clearly, there is a need to move beyond pre-packaged online courses that are mostly text based with only an occasional discussion forum or multi-media element thrown in. If learning is essentially a social activity, and meaning is constructed through communication and collaborations with others as social constructivism emphasizes, then social software becomes the ideal conduit to facilitate that social activity. Blogging provides exceptional opportunities for instructors to improve communication with students, and increase depth of learning through reflection. Wikis increase self-directed learning skills while facilitating collaboration between individuals separated by time and space. Social bookmarking and social networks enable learners to discover many more sources of knowledge then would ever be possible with a text book based course. The ability to also use these tools for knowledge creation, along with the ability to share this content almost anywhere, becomes a powerful way to improve online learning for all students and instructors. There are some growing pains evident however, from instructors unaccustomed to using social software and by students who see the requirement to use these tools as having an impact on their flexibility and independence. There also are issues of digital literacy for both instructors and students who lack the skills necessary to navigate and evaluate the superabundance of information available. Finding the right mix of social software tools in an online learning course may prove difficult at first, but as students become more proficient and instructors more accepting, the use of these powerful instruments for communication and collaboration will become commonplace.

52 Digital Technologies for Online Learning What digital technologies are most beneficial to the online learning experience? Mobile learning on mobile devices has shown early success in improving the online learning experience, with glimpses of an even greater potential to change the experience completely. Mobile devices have the ability to enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning by combining together a knowledge base, a content creator, a collaboration tool, and a communications platform. They are being used in all types of learning situations both in schools and at work, and continue to show improvements to learning accessibility, collaboration and flexibility. More higher education institutions are starting to see the possibilities of mobile learning and are providing increasing numbers of devices to their students. Many are finding Apple devices attractive because of their high levels of functionality and low levels of training, support and maintenance. Curriculums and strategies for using mobile devices though show need for improvement, as many institutions are merely pushing their traditional text based course work out to students. As more and more consumers buy these devices and get comfortable using them for their own personal use, mobile learning may at some point be seen as an essential part of the online learning experience.

53

Figure 1. Using educational learning theories in an online learning environment. The intersections where the circles overlap represent how the complementary aspects of each theory can facilitate the use of social software and mobile learning to enhance the learning process.

54

Figure 2. The participants of a learning community in an online learning environment. Each participant uses the process from figure 1 to enhance their knowledge through connections with the other participants. An online learning community is formed that benefits each participant in multiple ways.

55 Recommendations Recommendations for Practice • Online learning needs to be more fully implemented. It should not just be a way for institutions to increase their enrollment, or be classified separately as a different way of teaching. It should instead be a tool used by every instructor to enrich learning and enhance transfer of learning. It could easily be implemented in every course to expand on the text book, by introducing additional concepts that students could investigate at their own pace. Online learning could also be practiced in the classroom, with mobile devices, which will allow students the ability to research topics while also being in discussions with classmates. • Online learning courses need to make better use of social software. It should be an integral part of every online course. Not just as an extra to allow students to communicate, but to also allow them to collaborate. Social software tools can be used to allow students to actively participate in the construction of knowledge. The expectation that students will develop their own understandings and meanings together should be part of the process, and a goal of the learning objective. • Online learning should be more focused or centered on the learner. Social constructivism emphasizes the importance of the learner being actively involved in the learning process, as opposed to depending on the teacher to deliver the knowledge. When students can log on a computer and transform themselves to a different place, immerse themselves in artificial worlds or collaborate with people

56 around the world, the idea of the teacher as the holder of knowledge is surely antiquated. • Learner centered would then mean that the learner is in control of all aspects of the learning process. An online learning program could offer a menu of options that allows the student to decide: (a) what they want to learn, the choices would be extensive not just limited to the specialties of the resident teachers; (b) when they want to learn, the time frame, what days or time of day; (c) how they like to learn, reading, watching video, podcasts, wiki collaboration, blog postings; (d) who they want to learn with, on their own if they are self directed, as a co-learner with other students using collaborative tools, as part of a live video conferencing class; (e) where they want to learn, on a computer at home, library, or lab, on a mobile device anywhere using the appropriate mobile software. Online programs with these options would be able to cater to every different type of student. Recommendations for Further Study • Mobile learning still requires further study. There are too many possibilities or choices in how to use mobile devices in online learning. Instructional designers and teachers need more guidance on how to design appropriate curriculum. The focus should be placed on the learner and the underlying pedagogy rather than the hardware. Social constructive theory implies that people learn best when they have an opportunity to interact with content, instructors, and other learners, when there’s a realistic problem that activates new knowledge, and when they have a chance to apply new skills and reflect upon their learning. These are all capabilities that are possible when using a mobile device in conjunction with

57 social software. Mobile learning could be consistently effective with the development of a framework that employs social constructive learning theory and strategies combined with social software on a user friendly but powerful mobile device like Apple’s iPad. • Personal Learning Environments (PLE) also require further study. PLE’s hold many possibilities for harnessing and organizing informal learning. Possibilities that include allowing learners to engage in an educational program of their own choosing and design that achieves the same learning objectives as a formal program. Further research could identify a proper structure and the appropriate social software tools that would be most effective. • Finally, further studies into how to best utilize peer-to-peer learning should be conducted. The idea that future online learning could consist of motivated selflearners collaborating through social media to create, deliver, and learn an agreed upon curriculum is a powerful concept that could revolutionize online learning.

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73 VITA Graduate School Southern Illinois University Thomas J. Okon 1841 W. Cuyler, Chicago Illinois 60613 thomas.okon@mac.com DePaul University Bachelor of Science, Marketing & Advertising, 1982 Research Paper Title: Strategies for Improving Online Learning: An Examination of the Essential Theories, Tools and Technologies Date of Birth: February 24, 1960

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