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S. O' Sullivan, H. McGlynn

Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Student centred and constructivist learning have become almost buzz words in teaching and learning circles in higher education. With the emergence of e-learning, we have managed to overcome the confinement of the four walled enclosed classroom. However, instructor led pedagogies continue to prevail as manifested in the virtual lecture theatre adopted by many popular virtual learning environments. With Web 2.0 comes community based sharing where students are encouraged to interact with each other in collaborative based work. Collaborative learning is an instructional method that involves students working in pairs or small groups to achieve shared learning goals. In such a set up, students have a responsibility for their own actions and learning but the other group members as well. The concept of collaborative research and writing is based on social constructivism.
Constructivism promotes students creating authentic content and sharing their ideas and work with a real audience. Collaborative research projects build valuable skills in students such as the ability to collect relevant information, reflect on a topic, analyze, organize and reflect on information so that it fits in with what other group members are doing. Collaborative writing or co-writing affords the student a valuable opportunity to practice reading and writing skills but also encourages reflection, knowledge sharing and critical thinking. The teacher’s role in collaborative work is not to instruct but support learning by mediating knowledge through facilitation, coaching and dialogue. Technology provides many new opportunities for collaborative learning. Wikis offer unique and powerful information sharing and collaborative features that allow learners be actively involved in their own knowledge construction. Mind mapping is a creativity and productivity enhancing technique that can improve the learning and efficiency of individuals. Mind maps allow information collection and organization and show relationships among various concepts and ideas. Mind maps created using web based tools have the advantage that they can be visual as color and shapes can be incorporated which can aid memory and recall.
Podcasting presents students with the opportunity to actively participate in their own learning. Students creating their own podcasts for an authentic purpose perform on an advanced cognitive level where ideas are applied and synthesized into new content. As instructors podcasts are useful in assessment as they can be listened to and student knowledge can be assessed fairly and transparently as a permanent record of knowledge is produced
Senior and final undergraduates in the Sciences are required to read published papers, write reviews and present findings. Many reviews presented as assignments are a mix and match of segments from individual papers, copy and paste exercises of sections which do not read in totality as a cohesive unit. This paper examines how Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasting can be used in teaching undergraduates how to read papers, construct reviews and present as part of collaborative assignments.