UIR Web Science @CEMAM

USJ – Beirut / Lebanon

Sharing innovative teaching experience in higher education on the Web

Project launched in Feb 2011. Funded by: Conseil de la recherche de l’USJ.

Head of research: Stéphane BAZAN (FSEDU)

Project summary:

Sharing innovative teaching experience in higher education on the Web: An interdisciplinary study on a contextualized Web 2.0 application for community building and teacher training.

Web 2.0 is a term officially coined in 2004. It describes specific characteristics and core competencies of interactive content platforms on the World Wide Web. Numerous Web-based services and applications demonstrate the efficiency of the Web 2.0 business model including blogs, wikis, Social networks and collaborative platforms.

Widely used in the education world, Web 2.0 applications foster a new approach to learning. The possibility to share educational materials, imagine derivative projects, gives a wide range of opportunities for teachers to reach specific learning needs and focus on specific outcomes for a more empowering learning experience (Pitts, 2009). This is not just limited to content access: Web 2.0 applications core competencies allow users to benefit from social networking and create conditions for harnessing collective intelligence. If learners can build relationships in a community oriented approach, teachers can also benefit from the development of online professional communities, in a teacher training institutional strategy. Teacher education will need to approach Web 2.0 on two fronts, application to enhance learning in the process of teacher preparation or professional development and application to classrooms where teachers will be expected to use Web 2.0 tools with learners (Albion, 2009).

This research presents a case study on a particular higher education environment project (INNOV), where 20 teachers use Web 2.0 applications to create online professional communities through an empowering learning strategy. The study looks at how teachers, with basic knowledge of Web 2.0 tools will experience community building processes, add professional value to their curriculum and participate in the development of the educational quality strategy of the institution. The project is based on “teaching experience” storytelling, a pedagogic approach used in the development of E-Portfolios for teachers training. Structured around a Web 2.0 platform using an open source CMS, INNOV provides teachers a complete range of interactive tools to share their innovative teaching experiences. The formalized storytelling model (Vance, 1991) allows the rapid exploitation of knowledge through the production of various multimedia contents.

The research combines a purely pedagogic observation of technology learning processes through community building, response to innovation and acceptation of sharing strategies in a professional competitive environment. Using social network analysis (SNA), the study shows patterns in adoption, individual motivation and voluntary participation in content production. The interdisciplinary approach of Web Science was helpful for this study: the paper gives detailed solutions for designing an educational web application for teacher training that takes into account the particular context of the institution and ensure that the focus is on theory of teaching rather than the technology (Wubbels, 2007).

Following propositions made by Halford, Pope and Carr in their Manifesto for Web Science (2010), the study will finally look critically at the way Web technologies are used to build communities in the higher education context, creating exclusion or new forms of digital power.

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