1 CIDTFF/University of Aveiro & ESE/Polytechnics Institute of Santarem (PORTUGAL)
2 ESE/Polytechnic Institute of Santarem (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3635-3643
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Our society is changing rapidly, as are all the citizens that are growing and living in this new, technology-enhanced age. Today’s society, and therefore today’s students, are interconnected, living in a digital age; taking advantage of the easy access to networks; being able to multitask. With today’s networked society we can observe a new way of learning that is discovery based. The Web is now not only an informational and social resource, but also a learning tool that enables new ways of creating and sharing knowledge. Thus, it become more open and interactive, stimulating the participation of users, our students become more active to interpret, analyze, discover, assess, act and solve.
There is a growing trend in education and training towards the use of online and distance learning courses (e-learning format). This delivery format provides flexibility and accessibility; it is also viewed as a way to provide education in a more effective way to a broader community. Online courses are comfortable; they are built under the missive of “anyone, anywhere, anytime”. Everyone can participate from home or workplace.
Online courses can be developed in a variety of ways, for example, using a LMS (Learning Management System), a LCM (Learning Content System), or a Web 2.0 tool (or some mixture). Teachers are becoming challenged to develop new strategies in order to fulfill the needs and enhance the skills of their digital age students. Combining technology and pedagogy, the e-learning keeps the main goal of learning held by the student, as well as the e-content, which should be interactive and multimedia format. With the development of technologies and the growth of Web, many e-learning solutions arose. Higher Education (HE) is a field that has been taking advantage from this technological development, giving students other ways to access education. Social networks appear to be emerging environments providing channels of communication, sharing and distribution that enhance communication with e-learning students, replacing traditional communication with platforms such as Moodle or acting as a supplement that ensures the participation of the whole community. Participating, collaborating and cooperating with peers are very important in e-learning education. Currently there are several gadgets that allow access to Internet and consequently access to wireless network, so more users are connected and are able to interact with others. This reality of being connected to the network called “always on”, leads to the creation of communication strategies that suit both “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” (Prensky). It’s a way of communicating where users spend more time browsing and posting than in e-mail - a clear shift for social websites / social networks.
This paper will present and discuss, based on three implemented pilot studies, how students can benefit from the close contact with social networks and virtual worlds in order to enhance their collaborations and interactions and therefore achieve knowledge in an e-learning context. The target of this study was students from HE and the data has being collected by direct observation and questionnaires.
We realized the importance of having a tutor along the course to support and moderate students and help them to understand the contents and to interact with peers.
e-learning, Higher Education, e-tutoria, e-moderation, web 2.0, virtual environments, technology enhanced learning.