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M. Karna1, V. Karna2

1Tampere University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
2Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
Web 2.0 tools, which provide a platform for collaborative discussions and access to the immense online resources of information, fit well with the principles of self-regulated information searching, student-centred learning and collaborative knowledge construction of the PBL approach. Blogs and wikis are the most commonly used web 2.0 tools to support interaction in PBL context (Kaldoudi et al. 2008). Wikis are websites which serve as a platform for collaborative writing and enable editing of the existing text by anybody accessing the site. In educational settings wikis are used for information sourcing, information sharing and as a platform for collaborative writing (Parker & Chao 2007, 60-61). Blogs are usually personal online log areas which can be commented by other users. Blogs emphasize a subjective approach to knowledge and knowledge construction and are therefore used in education for writing personal learning diaries, group reflections and developing new ideas (Itkonen-Isakov 2007, 57).

Research on the simultaneous use of several Web 2.0 tools in PBL context is rare. This paper discusses and compares the perceptions of Bachelor level business students and Master level students of management concerning the combined use of wiki and blog areas to support their information searching and knowledge construction during the self-regulated work phase of problem-based learning.

Research data consisted of learning reports which were collected from 17 third year Bachelor level business students (youth education) at the Ikaalinen Business School of Tampere University of Applied Sciences, and 18 first year Master level students (adult education) of Management at the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences.

The study showed that even though the familiarity of web 2.0 tools might be different in different age groups the use of the tools in educational setting was new for everybody. This attest to the earlier findings of Prensky (2001) and Ilomäki (2008) that the skills of using web 2.0 tools in social contexts do not apply in educational environments as such. Thus the Bachelor students did not find the use of the tools any easier than the Master level students. Both groups also reported technical difficulties in using the Web tools at the beginning of the course.

The two groups’ approach to knowledge construction differed. The strategy chosen by the Bachelor students with a long experience of PBL was inductive. They engaged in collaborative knowledge construction first in wiki where they through a process of silent discussion positioned their knowledge to suit logically the earlier writings of their peers. The blog was used to reinforce their mutual understanding by validating their own arguments and by challenging the other group members' positions. The Master level students, on the other hand, applied a holistic strategy to their knowledge construction. They first negotiated in the blog a mutual knowledge structure for wiki writing. Only after that they engaged in constructing collaboratively a knowledge artefact on the wiki area.

The results of the study emphasize both the Bachelor and Master level students’ need of tutors’ technical as well as content building guidance. At the same time the results also implicate that Web 2.0 tools improve the information searching process and deepen the collaborative knowledge construction in PBL context.