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Online learning environments: Towards improving participation in online collaborative learning environments -- 312 -- Demonstration


14:45 - 15:45 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 3.204

Three years ago the author began working towards an EngD qualification under the title “Towards improving participation in online collaborative learning environments”. Whilst literature is rich with examples of how social context and peer support can influence learning outcomes, it was perceived that there is a dearth of software which actively encourages participants to contribute to a learning environment as they progress through a course of learning. Much of the motivation required for contribution to such environments is often said to comefrom Facilitators (or E-moderators) or from the carrot and stickapproach of offering course credit for contributions. Using researched methods of fostering intrinsic motivation as a basis for developing an innovation, a new Social Software platform for learning was developed and launched commercially.

The aim of the platform was to enable teachers or subject matter experts to create rich, active and social eLearning experiences, which could be worked through asynchronously by course participants. The platform enabled administrators to create eLearning experiences using any digital resources as learning objects, representing the objects in a visual interface for learners to explore. In order to encourage contributionand participation throughout the experience, the administrator is guided to scaffold a learner's journey using a Gamification-style mechanism of levels and experience points. Learners then progress through the learning journey acquiring experience points dependant on their contributions and participation in object-orientated discussion.

This session will briefly introduce the literature from which the approach was defined (Bandura, 1977; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Salmon, 2000) – (5 mins) before demonstrating a series of learning experiences created with the platform. This will include showing examples of “live” courses at both the home university in the UK and also the university of San Diego, USA(10 mins). It is also the demonstrator's ambition to ‘create’ a learning experience using the software live on stage, which participants will then be invited to play through at their own convenience (15 mins).

Intended outcomes for participants:

  • Understand how Social Software can be used to support emerging pedagogical methods, such as Curation and User Generated Content.
  • Understand how Gamification, when used appropriately, can shape behaviour in a desirable manner, potentially in lieu of intensive course moderation.
  • Familiarise themselves with a new software platform, which is commercially available (with a free edition available for Teachers)


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