Discussion #5 Chapter 4: Designing Dynamic Learning Environment for Web 2.0 Application

Description/summary of main ideas in the chapters.

The author’s rationale for writing this chapter comes from the change that has been brought about in instructional systems by the integration of Web 2.0 applications, but the lack of adequate instructional design models or the inability for the existing models to meet the needs of Web 2.0 learning opportunities. The authors hold that Web 2.0 learning environments are “ill-structured” and the current Instructional Design models are based in learning systems that are “well-structured” and therefore easy to design and model.

The authors begin the chapter by explaining a little bit about Web 2.0 applications and what makes up a Web 2.0 application.  They stated that the difference between the previous generation of Web technology and Web 2.0 is the fact that internet content and knowledge is no longer “one to many”, but now is a collective effort in which all users have a part of providing the information. They hold that that this is the basis of Web 2.0 technologies.

The authors left this section and began discussing the “cognitive demands” that learners face when dealing with Web 2.0 materials.  They explained what was meant by “cognitive demand” or “cognitive load” and how it affects learners and their experiences. They stressed that the job of an Instructional Designer is to create material that is effective yet allows for the “optimization of mindful effort” thus reducing cognitive load.

Next the authors gave a few examples of some of the instructional design models that are based in the old Web and old educational environments. These include the ADDIE model and linear SID models.  The authors hold that effective instructional design models must be “non-linear” and focus on student centered learning.  They gave some examples of some newer instructional design models which are more “non-linear”, but still SID models. These included the WisCom Design model, and the T5 Design Model, Three Phase Design (3PD) model.

The authors then gave a discussion about their own “framework” for Web 2.0 applications in educational learning environments. The authors stated that Web 2.0 flourishes when combined with constructivist learning theories and ideals. They warned that pure constructivist thought can be very ambiguous and can be combined with some behaviorist theories to give tangible learning outcomes. They spent the remaining sections of their chapter discussing their framework.

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the chapters.

This chapter challenged my notions of instructional design theories in that I had never thought about how the current models of design may or may not transition to other learning environments and paradigms than the ones that they (the models) were conceived in. This was a strong chapter from the standpoint of an instructional designer (of which I am not). This chapter was weak in that it gave very practical information to educators or those working in educational fields. It did give a very concise definition of what differentiates Web 2.0 from the previous generation of Web applications.  It also gave some information about how constructivist learning works with Web 2.0 tools.

I don’t know if this stems from my immaturity as an Instructional Technologist/Designer or my aversion to wholly “academic” thought at the expense of practicality, but articles like this bore me to tears. This article is steeped in academic thought and theory not practicality. I understand there is a great need for both types, but I personally prefer the practical side.

How could teachers/educators use the material/information addressed in the chapters to help improve their instruction or professional development?

Teachers could use very little in this article for professional development. I can see where district administrators using something like this for professional development sessions, but it would be a very ineffective session.  I have been a part of too many “professional development” sessions where there was a great deal of theory and very, very little practical information shared.  An Instructional Designer could use this article for his/her professional development and then create practical opportunities based upon the models and information shared in this article.

What future trends do you see coming from the topics dealt with in the chapters? In other words, do you think the material/information discussed in the chapters have any relevancy to the future or is it just a passing fad?

Web 2.0 is no passing fad, but as the article discusses, the models which Instructional Designers are fleeting. New theories emerge and new ideas about what is the “best” way to engage students will always be present. I hold to the old song “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is Gold.” I think abandoning educational theories for the new and improved ones are generally a mistake and that we as Instructional Designers, technologists, or educators should learn from what has been effective in the past and combine those with the new strategies.

What you learned from reading these chapters? If the articles did not reveal any new information, explain what you already know about the topic and how you gained that knowledge (e.g., experience, word-of-mouth, research).

I think I read this article three times because I had a hard time applying this knowledge to my background experiences and my personal knowledge, not because I didn’t understand it. There are still a great many questions that I have about the models and even though that was the meat of the article, I enjoyed the discussion prior to the models about cognitive load and what made up Web 2.0 technologies.  Please don’t understand me in saying that I feel there is no need for theoretical design discussions or Instructional Design models, but this one took me by surprise because of the practicality of the other chapters we had discussed.  I did learn about some of the models of Instructional Design and some of the emergent ones.

Did you feel the chapters helped in your understanding of the use of technology in education? Explain why or why not. Did anything confuse you? Did the chapters leave more questions for you?

I won’t restate what I’ve already said concerning the lack of practical information in this article, but this did offer some information about Web 2.0 technologies and their characteristics.

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About Michael T.

I'm a student in the Instructional Technology and Design Ph.D. program at Southern Miss. I'm also working as a multimedia developer at the Learning Enhancement Center on campus at Southern Miss. I'm married and have a 3 year old daughter. I enjoy all kinds of technology, but especially graphic design, interactive web (flash), and high quality multimedia (audio and video) technologies.

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