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Web 2.0 and the trend towards self directed learning environments - page 6 / 16





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McLoughlin and Lee


Designing personalised and self regulated learning tasks and environments: The need for scaffolding and some global examples

In attempting to achieve learner self-regulation, the sole use of open ended or discovery learning environments in the absence of appropriate instructional support and task scaffolding has been criticised by a number of educational researchers (see, for example, Mayer, 2004). Moreover, though web based learning environments lend themselves to self regulated learning approaches (eg. inquiry based learning, problem based learning), new tasks and concepts impose numerous demands on learners (Narciss, Proske & Koerndle, 2007). As a counterbalance, personalised, learner centred design offers a dynamic perspective that incorporates pedagogical scaffolds to support novice learners to learn and apply previously unknown thinking strategies, skills and practices (Aleven, Stahl, Schworm, Fischer & Wallace, 2003). Scaffolding need not be teacher directed, and current social software tools can be used in ways that address learner centred concerns for self managed learning and control (for example, e- portfolios). The challenge for educators, therefore, is to enable self direction, knowledge building and autonomy by providing options and choice while still supplying the necessary structure and scaffolding.

Internationally, there are a growing number of designs for tasks and learning environments that seek to achieve balance between self regulated and personalised learning and scaffolding support, while integrating Web 2.0 tools as well as the production, sharing and use of student-generated content. Table 1 below provides a number of examples, drawn from the exemplary practices of teachers at tertiary institutions across the globe.

Discussion and implications for practice

While the international examples in Table 1 provide good working models of self regulated and personalised learning, educators need to be equipped with principles and guidelines that can be applied in diverse contexts. How can the ‘ideal’ balance between scaffolded and learner-directed learning activities and tasks be achieved? What role should technologies, including but not limited to the ever-expanding and evolving raft of Web 2.0 and social computing tools, play in this process?

Jonassen (1994) maintains that the real challenge facing educational technologists is to consider instructional goals in a particular context, then to adjust the strategies, models and tactics as necessary to attune the nature of the task to the perspective of the student. Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer and Scott (1994) are in concurrence with this view, adding that teachers have two roles: Firstly, a supportive role in introducing new ideas or cultural tools and supporting students in making sense of these for themselves, and secondly, a diagnostic role in continually examining students’ interpretations of activities in order to help determine an appropriate direction for subsequent steps. Thus a major role of the teacher is arguably to facilitate this dynamic learning process, assisting learners in drawing their own links between their learning and the ‘real world’; other roles may be that of ‘consultant’, ‘guide’ and ‘resource provider’ (Markel, 1999).

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