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Designing Weblogs Using Grounded Design in an Online Graduate Educational Research Environment

Designing Weblogs Using Grounded Design in an Online Graduate Educational Research Environment

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Designing Weblogs Using Grounded Design in an Online Graduate Educational Research Environment

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  1. Designing Weblogs Using Grounded Design in an Online Graduate Educational Research Environment W. Freeman OISE/UT C. Brett OISE/UT

  2. Presentation Outline • The Technology • The Design Framework • Preliminary Findings • Very Tentative Conclusions

  3. GRAILGraduate Researcher’s Academic Identity onLine The overall goal of this project is to develop a set of social and technical tools that support the formation of an online community to engage graduate students in activities related to educational research across course boundaries and through their degree program.

  4. Exchanging Information about School n=26 Respondents from Winter and Fall 2005 CTL1608

  5. Discuss Ideas, Assignments, Papers n=26 Respondents from Winter and Fall 2005 CTL1608

  6. Who Do Students Talk to? • Family • Friends • Work Colleagues • One said Supervisor

  7. What is a Weblog? • Filter • Journal • Knowledge Log (Herring, Scheidt, Wright & Bonus, 2005) OR…

  8. What is a Weblog? • Document my Life • Commentary • Catharsis • Muse • Community Forum (Nardi, Schiano, Gumbrecht, & Swartz, 2004) OR…

  9. What is a Weblog? • Filter • Journal • Notebook (Blood, 2002) • Distributed Conversation (Blanchard, 2004; Marlow, 2004)

  10. Weblogs • Posts are usually brief • Posts appear in reverse chronological order • Posts often contain links, comments • Can be personalized • Can be displayed by category or date • Can be easily monitored using RSS

  11. What is a Weblog? • A public web-based environment for reading and writing. • The power of the environment comes from the social computing tools to which weblogs connect.

  12. Social Computing Tools • Web2.0 • Native web environment • Data is in the network of value-added links created by users • Familiar examples • Amazon • Google • Wikipedia

  13. Social Computing • New web-based tools that are used by people to collect and connect. • Collecting • Really Simple Syndication (RSS) • Subscribe to weblogs of interest, monitor them for new posts, discover new ideas, new weblogs, new communities. • Bloglines: http://bloglines.com

  14. RSS • Regular Reading (RSS) • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) • Lets readers monitor a number of resources (weblogs, websites, etc) centrally

  15. Connecting Tagging • Collaborative categorization of sites using freely chosen keywords, often referred to as tags • Social computing tools are built to capitalize on the power of personal meaning. • Find others who share similar interests • Delicious: http://del.icio.us • Keep track of interesting weblog posts and websites by adding tags (categories, descriptors, why it’s meaningful for you) • Social Bookmarking is one example. • Others include Flickr (photos), YouTube (video), CiteULike (academic journals).

  16. Social Bookmarking • http://del.icio.us • Folksonomy: “is a collaboratively generated, open-ended labeling system that enables Internet users to categorize content such as Web pages, online photographs” http://wikipedia.com

  17. Social Bookmarking • Who else found this interesting? • What did they call it? • What other things are they interested in?

  18. Legitimate Peripheral Participation “. . . concerns the process by which newcomers become part of a community of practice” Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 29 The goal of GRAIL is to support that process Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  19. Grounded Design • Grounded Design proposed as a model for constructing a learning environment ( Hannifin & Land, 1997; Land & Hannifin, 2000) • Purpose is to ground design decisionswithin a particular theoretical or analytical framework so that core foundations and assumptions are aligned within the learning environment. • Psychological foundations • Pedagogical foundations • Cultural foundations • Technological foundations • Pragmatic foundations

  20. Legitimate Peripheral Participation Legitimate • Being a part of a community or group Peripheral • Implies a trajectory, degrees of participation Participation • Engaging in the practice that defines a community • Engagement in social practice • Learning as a part of participation, not as the purpose of participation

  21. Psychological Foundations • Underlying beliefs about how learning occurs • Legitimate Peripheral Participation as an analytic framework suggests that learning occurs as a result of: • Ongoing and authentic participation in the practices of a community • Opportunities to negotiate meaning through social interaction with others at various levels of expertise and experience. • Weblogs • Ongoing and progressive representation of individual understanding and emergence of ideas • Informal and formal language of practice through writing • Linking and commenting provide opportunities for distributed conversation and negotiation of meaning • Weblogs can be editorial • Different levels of expertise and experience are on presented online

  22. Pedagogical Foundations • The curriculum arises out of practice • Processes of graduate study and research projects are presented through writing • Research projects and other tasks of graduate study cross course boundaries and relate over time to entire program of study. • Location for students to participate in scholarly activities by presenting, critiquing and receiving feedback on each others’ work • Opportunities to express understanding through individual writing • Use the formal and informal language of practice • More experienced students and faculty offer exemplars of practice • Weblogs • A writing intensive environment that is individual • Is public yet informal • Database structure (categories, calendar, reverse chronology) demonstrates progress • Shared environment communicates community

  23. Cultural Foundations • Prevailing beliefs and values about research and education • Differences reflected in the individual and community meanings associated with educational research practice • Language and artefacts of practice are imbued with culture of practice that is made apparent through use in participation • Closely tied to the local communities in which students participate and practice throughout their studies • Students may begin their studies with different experiences and expectations of research • Experience differential continues as part-time or distance students are less able to participate legitimately in actual research activities • Weblogs • Ample opportunities for individual reflection • The blogs provide a way for newcomers to read and write their way into the community • Archives provide a history that can serve to communicate beliefs and values • Artifacts can be displayed and used

  24. Technological Foundations • Technological affordances support or constrain learning in the context of LPP • Information sharing and professional discourse • Access to the artifacts of research practice • Distributed social networks

  25. Pragmatic Foundations • Reflect the situational constraints faced by participants in a learning environment. • Considerations for graduate students: • Place and time affects forms of and access to participation within a community • Time to participate in out-of-class activities • Motivation to participate in a community of researchers • Weblogs require: • Comfort writing in public • Development of voice over time • A critical mass of others to create “community”

  26. The GRAIL story so far • Iteration One: Winter 2005 • Participants • CTL1608: Constructive Learning and the Design of Online Environments • Graduate students in an OISE research group • Faculty • MovableType weblog software purchased and installed • Individual weblogs created • No aggregation available

  27. No Aggregation

  28. GRAIL continues • Summer 2005 • Participants: • No in-course students • Research group continues • Doctoral students recruited for action research project • Aggregator created

  29. First Aggretator

  30. and Continues • Iteration Two: Fall 2005 • Participants: • CTL1608: Constructive Learning and the Design of Online Environments • Graduate students in an OISE research group • Faculty • Weblog Action Research Group (WARP) • Weblog aggregator launched • Improvements begin

  31. and … • Iteration Three: Winter 2006 • Participants: • CTL1018: Introduction to Qualitative Research • Graduate students in an OISE research group • Faculty • WARP • New aggregator launched

  32. Current Aggregator

  33. GRAIL weblog use

  34. Pedagogical Weblog Use • Fully online, course readings, student moderation, KF discussions, and weblog • Weblog was presented as an online journal • Reflection questions were posted weekly as a guide to scaffold reflection • Students were encouraged to experiment with the weblog and to write as much as they liked • Other graduate students and faculty had kept weblogs in the same environment

  35. Course Weblog Use • Winter 2005 • Mean number of posts/weblog=11 • Mean ratio of reflection question use for course=72% • Fall 2005 • Mean number of posts/weblog=10 • Mean ratio of reflection question use for course=55%

  36. Trends in Reflection Question use and non-use • Weblog posts which responded to the reflection questions used fewer weblog features such as Subjective Space or Flexibility • *Students used the weblogs to: • Make sense of course content • Make sense of course experiences • Relate course content to academic self • Relate learning to practice *Based on preliminary analysis of six weblogs from each course.

  37. Patterns in Course Weblog Use • Differing styles of use • Dana: Winter 2005 • Used her weblog consistently through the course to keep track of her emerging ideas about her final assignment. • Michelle: Fall 2005 • The RebelBlogger • Documented her love/hate relationship with keeping a journal. • Drew: Winter 2005 • Wrote about his professional progress throughout the course.

  38. Outside Course Boundaries • The WARP Group Experience • Mean number of posts/weblog=7 • All could see the pedagogical value of weblogs but. . . • Public nature of the weblog was inhibiting • Little personal value for time • Lacked collaboration they had come to expect in a discussion board • Reported uneven take up of social computing tools

  39. Aggregation • With each change to the aggregator, students read more of their peers’ posts. • First Iteration • Students apologized for reading each others’ blogs in their comments. • Second Iteration • Students freely commented on each others’ weblogs and mentioned each other’s blogs in KF discussions. • Third Iteration • Students in different groups read each other’s weblogs

  40. Psychological Foundations: Implications and Conclusions • Students used their weblogs for productive reflection regarding issues outside narrow confines of the course activities suggesting that given the right social computing environment, peripheral participation through reading and writing might be possible. • Work still to be done to situate the weblogs within an environment that engages students in research practice.

  41. Pedagogical Foundations: Implications and Conclusions • Activities should encourage that promote writing, reading and linking that are authentic and likely to be sustained. • Students should be encouraged to read and write about experiences and resources to develop their own meaning. • Weblogs have the potential to provide students with a location in which to develop their ideas with feedback from others. • With proper aggregation, students will be able to monitor their peers’ progress with minimal effort.

  42. Cultural Foundations: Implications and Conclusions • Weblogs have the potential to render implicit meaning and artifact use transparent through linking and commentary. • Weblogs can make process visible. • A critical mass of active members is necessary for these connections to be made.

  43. Technological Foundations: Implications and Conclusions • On their own weblogs may not have the affordances that support LPP. • Coupled with social computing tools, such as aggregators and tagging, artifacts can be shared with rich contextual, practice-based meaning. • These tools, should be integrated into a single environment to eliminate course boundaries and promote ongoing community development. • Mechanisms that allow groups to emerge will lead to an environment that promotes social interaction.

  44. Pragmatic Foundations: Implications and Conclusions • Students encounter contradictions between informal and academic writing styles when using the weblog. • Public nature of weblog environment may inhibit some forms of participation. • It takes longer than a course to establish the value of keeping a weblog • Student time is focused on completing course requirements. • Keeping pace with technology can be difficult.

  45. Resources Downes, S. (2005). Semantic Networks and Social Networks. http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=31624. Hinchcliffe, D. (2006). The Shift to Social Computing.http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/index.php?p=21. Mortensen, T. & Walker, J. (2002). Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool. http://www.intermedia.uio.no/konferanser/skikt-02/docs/Researching_ICTs_in_context-Ch11-Mortensen-Walker.pdf O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html.

  46. Contact Info Clare Brett cbrett@oise.utoronto.ca http://grail.oise.utoronto.ca/journal/cbrett Wendy Freeman wfreeman@oise.utoronto.ca http://grail.oise.utoronto.ca/journal/wfreeman