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Australasian Journal of Educational Technology

2010, 26(1), 28-43

Personalised and self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software

Catherine McLoughlin Australian Catholic University

Mark J. W. Lee Charles Sturt University

An Outstanding Paper Award recipient, ascilite Auckland 2009 Conference

Research findings in recent years provide compelling evidence of the importance of encouraging student control over the learning process as a whole. The socially based tools and technologies of the Web 2.0 movement are capable of supporting informal conversation, reflexive dialogue and collaborative content generation, enabling access to a wide raft of ideas and representations. Used appropriately, these tools can shift control to the learner, through promoting learner agency, autonomy and engagement in social networks that straddle multiple real and virtual learning spaces independent of physical, geographic, institutional and organisational boundaries. As argued in this article, however, in order for self-regulated learning to come to fruition, students need not only to be able to choose and personalise what tools and content are available, but also to have access to the necessary scaffolding to support their learning. Emerging practices with social computing technologies, a number of examples of which are showcased in this article, signal the need for pedagogies that are more personal, social and participatory. The authors conclude with a discussion of some of the key implications for practice, including an outline of the current challenges faced by tertiary educators.

Web 2.0 and the trend towards self directed learning environments

The global learning landscape of the twenty-first century is being transformed and shaped by the uptake of digital communication tools and ubiquitous networked applications, along with the changing characteristics, needs and demands of students. The UK-based Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience (CLEX, 2009) concludes that

Web 2.0, the Social Web, has had a profound effect on behaviours, particularly those of young people whose medium and metier it is. They inhabit it with ease and it has led them to a strong sense of communities of interest linked in their own web spaces, and to a disposition to share and participate. (p. 9)

This indicates that digital-age students want an active learning experience that is social, participatory and supported by rich media. Current research also points to a growing appreciation of the need to support and encourage learner control over the whole/entire learning process (Dron, 2007). As web based multimedia production and

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