Archive for Web 1.0 & Walled Gardens

Web 1.0 & Walled Gardens……

VLE’s & DB’s

As a digital immigrant I am being exposed to so many new terms it is mind-boggling or should I say mind blogging????

This week, which is not really this week as I am catching up on all the weeks, we reviewed Web 1.0 and agreed although it is not collaborative it still has its place in the learning environment. The learning style of Web 1.0 is predominantly behaviourist, however this is not always a bad thing. Children can still learn this way, I did and I am here at University! Quizzes and drill exercises are one way Web 1.0 can be used. Children love to do quizzes on the computer and if children are engaged, no matter whether it is behaviourist or constructivist, they are still learning and that can only be a positive thing.

Now the next topic of discussion was walled gardens which, after the lesson, I understand to be an environment that controls the user’s access to Web content and services. The walled garden directs the user’s navigation within particular areas, to allow access to a selection of material, or prevent access to other material. The internet provider may or may not allow users to select some of the Web sites contained or barred from the garden. Although the walled garden does not actually prevent users from navigating outside the walls, it makes it more difficult than staying within the environment.

Social network sites such as Facebook are examples of a walled garden as they are password protected. When a user posts on their Facebook site this information is only available to others registered to Facebook and not all information is available to everyone, depending on the privacy controls placed by the user. Other social network sites cannot be accessed through the Facebook network or vice versa. The advantage of this is privacy, however it inhibits relationship building as a separate profile is required for each site and then relationships require management between the sites. Another disadvantage with ‘walls’ around social networks are they lock content into non-transferrable settings. This blog can be found through a Google search, so could any photos I post on Flickr, however what I write in Facebook is only visible within that network, therefore those messages and photos are built in a walled garden.

However, there are valid reasons for having a ‘walled garden’. Some companies and most educational institutions prefer to maintain a walled garden in order to control their environment by choosing who visits, the quality of their site and the level of privacy.

The topic of walled gardens leads me to reflect on what I have learned regarding VLE’s and DB’s. One thing I have noticed as I learn more about the digital world is the high use of acronyms! If you are not aware what VLE means, it is Virtual Learning Environment. They are sometimes known by other acronyms, LMS and CMS, Learning Management Systems and Course Management Systems. The digital world is like learning a whole new culture with a new language!

So what is the difference between these acronyms?

A VLE is a system designed by an educational organisation to help the educators manage their units for their students. Universities use them as a website that requires minimal technical skills by the contributor. It facilitates communication where the educator can post lessons and useful website links. Many educational organisations use VLE’s such as Blackboard or WebCT.

The University I am currently attending uses WebCT, which I find very frustrating! It is often hard to log on to, takes forever to load and sometimes cannot be accessed outside of the University depending on the internet browser you use. Alternatively, when I attended another University 10 years ago, I found the VLE they used, Blackboard, was far superior even when comparing it to how it was 10 years ago to the WebCT I use today!

I will explain briefly what I believe a CMS and LMS to be respectively. A CMS is used to manage the content of a website allowing the creation for online content by several people. Modified information resources are stored in a database. This is a great system if you need to check the material before it is published online. WordPress  is an example of a CMS. Where a CMS is used to manage the content, LMS is used to deliver, track and manage learning. The educator can keep track of his/her students and inform them by email if they are falling behind in their course, etc. An example of a LMS is ELearning and Moodle.

All the above three are examples of walled gardens as they require a password to visit. Content is locked in and cannot be transferred out of the learning environment.

Let’s look at the final acronym for this week’s tutorial.

DB’s or discussion boards are a web-based learning tool than can be used in the classroom to stimulate discussion on a topic. As a prospective teacher I still prefer the face-to-face discussion in the classroom among the students, however I can see the benefits of this tool. Discussion about a particular topic could be initiated in class and to further extend the students thinking they could add further comments on the class discussion board. The teacher would need to moderate the discussions to ensure the students don’t go off track. A time frame for discussion would ensure all students have contributed and comments made could then discussed in class. This form of discussion would help students who are reluctant to speak up in class and allows all students time to think about their responses.

As teachers are often time poor the teacher could use the discussion board to find out what students know about a subject. In other words it could be used as a strategy for obtaining prior knowledge with the teacher then able to direct his or her lessons to fill in the student’s gaps.

Another advantage for students is they can discuss with students at other schools and in other countries and create an on-line community working collaboratively to solve a problem or develop ideas.

With any tool, whether it is e-based or traditional, there are always drawbacks. I found participating in our discussion forum time consuming. It is easier to speak in the classroom rather than having to log on and then think about what to write. It is also time consuming when the discussion has a number of comments that you need to go through and read to allow you to make a comment and also to see if anyone supports your views.

Other challenges to face when deciding to incorporate DB’s into the learning program are;

  • Are there enough computers in the class?
  • Is the school network reliable and accessible all the time?
  • Can students access the discussion board out of school hours? If not, does the student have time to complete at school? What if this poses a problem and the student needs to stay back after hours but is unable to as they need to catch the bus?
  • Are all the students computer literate?
  • Do all the students possess a literacy level required to participate in the discussion?

These are some of the problems that a teacher may face before embarking on any web-based learning.

However, as my classmates and I are quickly learning, teaching poses many challenges and with each challenge we should use it as an opportunity to develop our pedagogical skills that will benefit future students in our care.

I have included a fantastic website outlining the benefits of Discussion Boards in the classroom.Please click here to access.