C. Albrechtsen, N. Friis Pedersen

Aarhus University (DENMARK)
Drawing on socio-cultural learning theory the presentation presents and discusses the learning potentials of two different cases, both aiming to support and enhance university students’ learning in open learning environments.

From a socio-cultural perspective learning processes are embedded in socio-cultural practices and cannot be managed but unfold as individuals in social communities engage in activities with the object of completing a task or solving a problem (Dewey 1916). Thus learning resources should be open to multiple purposes in terms of usage rather than aimed at a specific didactic objective. Learning resources should also support the social aspect of learning by making the individual learners’ activities visible, so that they can be helpful and inspirational to others (Dalsgaard 2009).

Digital media may be especially well-suited to support individuals’ active learning processes, as they may hold contents that are open to multiple purposes and usages, including social interaction and user involvement (van Dijk 2009; Bruns 2008), and thus may be used as knowledge media (Eisenstadt & Vincent 1998: 4; Dalsgaard 2009: 21). Furthermore, students are already using digital media widely for learning purposes (MacArthur 2011; Kobbernagel et al. 2011), and they increasingly engage in learning activities outside of formalized learning environments, using web 2.0 and/or social software to establish new communities of communication and learning (Brabazon 2007; Redecker 2009). By making knowledge available and facilitating students’ creation of knowledge on digital and social platforms that young people are already using, students are more likely to come into contact with and to be inclined to interact with the resources provided.

These reflections on the use of digital media to support and enhance university students’ learning processes have resulted in two specific and rather different digital learning resources, “Pages” and “Study Metro”, which we will present and discuss. “Pages” integrates blogs, wikies and social networks in an open source learning environment, while “Study Metro” is a website about study skills for international students extending into a popular social network site and onto a video sharing service.

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