Interaction & Culture Laboratory (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5075-5085
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
In order to deeply understand knowledge building process in a Blended Learning Community (BLC) and in attempt to define principles in Sociability Policy implementation (Preece, 2000), this paper present a research experience moving from a Participatory Framework for Distance Cooperation (Armenti, Cottone, Soru, 2008) developed within a Socio-Cultural Psychological approach (Vygotsky, 1978; Brown, at al., 1989; Bruner, 1990; Cole, 1996; Mantovani, 1996). From this study we take the concept of Participation, and the definition of participation indexes in WKC. According to this findings we provide to study participation in a BLC.
Our Research experience is developed in a BLC, a kind of Web-Based Knowledge Community (WKC) made up by a traditional Face-to-Face (FTF) meetings and a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as distance e-learning support tool. This kind of community is build for academic course, an increasing experience in today academic learning.
Subject involved in the research are students attending Psychology course at a Bachelor Degree Program, divided in 109 female and 22 male, with average age of 22, self selected in 12 workgroup, with an average of 9 members per group. Core research procedure consist in build self selected workgroup to accomplish a Collaborative Task via both FTF and CMC work condition. VLE is provided with a Forum used both for group self-selection and workgroup management.
We conducted both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The former in order to provide for participation indexes, the latter to understand different way of forum using in collaborative knowledge task accomplishment. To this purpose we provided to a first categorization of forum posts in "Knowledge Posts", "Organizational Posts" and "Social Posts". Therefore, from all the contents available in VLE we defined a set of words which can represent a common ground (Mantovani, 2000) in order to identify the contents of the posts. Comparing this sets of words with the lexical occurrences in the posts analysis we provide to identify and categorize posts.
Preliminary results show that the hypothesis by which students use the forum also for purpose different from task accomplishment is confirmed. The categorization results useful and exhaustive inclusive, even thought is just a preliminary attempt and needs better definition and expansion. Practical application of the present research findings can be identified in defining guidelines to improve either pro tem topics design and “on time intervention” in ongoing Community Participation, as well as in Participation evaluation. An example of intervention can be showed moving from a Sociability Framework (Preece, 2000): if we recognize a low social posting we can introduce a post in this category in order to encourage students social-oriented interaction on this facet. The same strategies can be practiced for the other categories providing a potential intervention at a BLC level.

Armenti, A., Soru, D., Cottone, P., (2008). Models of participation in a Web Knowledge Community: a preliminary study. Abstract presented at ICERI 2008 Committee, Nov. 17-18-19, Madrid (ES).
Brown, at al., (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18, 32–42.
Mantovani, G., (2000). Exploring borders. Understanding Culture and Psychology. London, Routledge.
Preece, J. (2000). Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.
participation, blended learning community, forum, knowledge building.