Concordia University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 501-508
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
The ongoing gold rush to mine benefits from emerging social networks has generated a number of studies exploring the use of digital publishing and social networks in higher education; focusing on blogs in particular and writing instruction, specifically, recent studies suggest that blogs cultivate learning communities and provide an effective writing environment that builds professionalism and engages students in higher-levels of self-reflection (Lee, 2010; Frye, Trathen & Koppenhaver, 2010; Camp & Bolstad, 2011; Chretien, Goldman , & Faselis, 2008; Descy 2004; Ferriter 2009; Fessakis, Tatsis, & Dimitracopoulou, 2008; Quible, 2005; Buechler, 2010; Byington, 2011; Miyazoe, & Anderson, 2010; and Gallagher, 2010).

Nonetheless, few experimental studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of web-mediated writing instruction over the effectiveness of writing instruction, which employs traditional writing processes, small group draft workshops and computer-mediated writing on paper. This research study was designed as a quasi-experimental study involving two nonrandomized sections of composition classes, involving repeated trials. Both groups met in a computer lab; one used the lab to generate computer-mediated drafts or electronic drafts, and the other group worked in the computer lab to produce digital drafts on an open-course blog and engaged in web-mediated collaboration, allowing for a direct comparison of learning outcomes. This study will answer the following question: What effect does a social learning space and web-mediated writing have on the writing process and learning outcomes?

Two sections of composition courses were given an authentic task to write a series of articles for publication; one section followed the traditional writing process using computer-assisted writing on paper and group workshops, utilizing a traditional paper or electronic draft workshop format, while the other section published their work-in-progress on blogs and engaged in web-mediated online collaboration, to determine if there are meaningful differences in learning outcomes as measured by draft workshops, grades and acceptance scores. The results of this study demonstrate that an online social network, in the form of an open course blog used to produce web-mediated writing, impacted learning outcomes.

Publishing work-in-progress on a course blog provides a great deal of affordance for the instructor in terms of managing and overseeing student work, allowing for a greater degree of control over students levels of engagement and cooperation. An open course website used for web-mediated writing also seems to bring out the digital critic in students. The evidence reported in this study reveals that most likely, web-mediated collaboration had a positive impact on learning outcomes.
Collaboration, social network, composition, social learning space, web-mediated, authentic task, course blog, open education, affordance.