Despite recent British government moves to equip all primary schools with fast broadband connections to the Internet, it would seem that many schools as yet make little use of the increased capacity this affords, other than to incorporate more rich multimedia in the form of interactive games or animated presentations to illustrate particular concepts or practise specific skills. Whilst not wishing to deny the potential and value of such activities, this paper will focus on the potential use of online communities to reverse this rather unidirectional relationship which children often experience with the Internet. That is, the potential within online communities to facilitate a more reciprocal relationship as children become benefactors as well as recipients of the wealth of web-based information, and the quality of learning that may ensue. A small-scale comparative case study was undertaken in two primary schools where children were given access to online tools allowing them to communicate and participate – in and out of school – within an online community. Methodological tools used included content analysis of children’s websites and semi-structured interviews with the students and their teachers. The type of learning that online communities may yield, it is argued, is one that is based upon a deep understanding of what it means both to be a learner, and to take responsibility for one’s learning. Furthermore, the findings appear to imply that the participation and role played by the teacher within the virtual community is vital to the quality of learning.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Computers & Education|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2006|
- computer-mediated communication, cooperative/collaborative learning, learning communities, pedagogical issues, virtual reality