About Dalsgaard’s article: Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems

In his article titled “Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems”, Dalsgaard presented some e-learning tools including weblogs, social bookmarking tools, and wiki. The features, functions, uses, etc. can be found in the slides posted by Stephen and Edith on Blackboard. In terms of their benefits for my Vietnamese students, blogs can be used as individual tools to practice their reading, writing, organizing ideas, critical thinking, etc. whereas, as a collaborative tool, wiki can be used for their group projects.

Dalsgaard also questioned the role of LMS in promoting learning as its use is limited to administrative purposes and thus it does not provide students as much freedom to explore and learn as expected. His argument is true for students who are self-motivated with high autonomy for study. However, LMS may be a solution in the Vietnamese educational context where academic freedom is not a real motivator to many students because of the mindset and practice of teachers as a key factor in students’ success. From my observation, my students usually need a push, or several pushes, to start and keep their ‘study engines’ running. They need clear task objectives, deadline and marks/evaluation from their teachers rather than setting their own study goals or plans, and use the available tools and support to achieve them. As a teacher, I would want to see evidence of my students’ learning processes to make sure that they are using their study time learning something, not surfing entertainment or social-networking websites for fun only.

Besides, why not using a system in which both LMS and social softwares are possible, or using both at the same time? Teachers would have the level of management they want and students have the freedom they like. Then the questions can be narrowed to: To what extent teachers/administrators practice their control over students’ learning processes? Again, LMS or social softwares are tools only. Whether they can serve their purposes well depends on the course designers and/or users (teachers and students).

I like the idea of social constructivism presented in the article because I also believe in “self-governed and problem-solving activities” to enhance learning. The more authentic the activities are, the closer the approach of learning to English as a second language. Contents in this case will drive structures. And I’m happy that there are so many social softwares to facilitate such approach.

Questions: How can I combine blogs and wiki to facilitate English learning and teaching? The LMS of Moodle provides both wiki and blogs for each course created for students to enroll. Is Moodle an answer?

Synthesis:

Important:

“Every organization of e-learning depends on the chosen pedagogical approach. A discussion of the educational potentials of social software, and other tools, needs to be approached from the point of view of an understanding and description of specific learning activities (Dalsgaard, 2005). The approach to e-learning presented below discusses educational social software from the point of view of social constructivism. The conception of learning as self-governed, problem-based and collaborative processes is derived from a social constructivist approach (Bang & Dalsgaard, in print). According to a social constructivist approach, learning is considered a social and active process (Vygotsky, 1978; Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Jonassen, 2000). Problem-based activities describe a learning process in which students are directed at solving a problem. It is important to a social constructivist approach that a student tries to solve the problem him- or herself. In other words, students should direct their own problem-solving process.”

LMS

Blogs

Wikis

·      organized and managed within an integrated system

·      offer discussion forums, file sharing, management of assignments, lesson plans, syllabus, chat, etc

·      well suited for managing student enrolment, exams, assignments, course descriptions, lesson plans, messages, syllabus, basic course materials, etc. However, self-governed and problem-based activities are not very well supported by LMS

·      Learning processes of the kind described in the social constructivist approach outlined in this article cannot be managed.

·      What can be managed, however, is the administrative aspects of a course

·      a log file with dated entries listed on a web page in chronological order

·      individual and also often personal

·      Maintaining a weblog means continuously writing new entries

·      by a single individual and it does not support discussion

·      When a weblog is related to other weblogs, the weblogs become social, and communities or networks are formed

·      social software tools

·      can be edited dynamically directly from the web page itself. In principle, everybody with access to a wiki can make changes to it

·      A wiki keeps track of changes meaning that you can view previous versions of each page on a wiki

 

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One Response to About Dalsgaard’s article: Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems

  1. cyberplacebo says:

    Lol 🙂 let us know when you have found answers (or questions!) in this article!

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