More from the new book edited by George Veletsianos:
Chapter 4 of the new “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education” book is Mark J.W. Lee and Catherine McLoughlin’s “Beyond Distance and Time Constraints: Applying Social Networking Tools and Web 2.0 Approaches in Distance Education.” (note: the chapter may be freely downloaded via: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/04_Veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf )
This chapter provides a useful overview of the context of distance education including its function and its shortfalls — with social isolation, leading to demotivation, being one of the main traditional concerns. It is interesting to reflect on the impact of isolation from a scholarly community and this chapter clarifies and highlights the importance of social presence (and the culture of a learning environment) to the actual learning that will take place.
The authors then consider how Web 2.0 might address this and other issues for distance learners. With concrete examples of work being done with respect to social presence, reconceptualization of design and new pedagogical strategies, this chapter focuses on authentic collaborative activities for distance learners. The authors describe distance students working together to create meaningful content and support each others’ learning.
I would highly recommend this chapter as an idea generator for distance educators who want to incorporate Web 2.0 strategies, or as an introduction to those who may require a coherent overview of the possibilities to guide their decision, taking the history and the potential future of distance education into account.
This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).