WWW support of student learning: A case study
AbstractThe World Wide Web (WWW) is achieving a place of prominence in educational practice. However, the benefits of using the Web to support learning are not always apparent. The most prominent public feature of the Internet is the multitude of possibilities that it presents for information retrieval. This is widely believed to offer educational advantage, although the means by which that advantage are realised are typically not well specified. The paper discusses the role of information retrieval opportunities presented by the Internet, and suggests that it requires a new model of information access best supported by a reconsideration of educational philosophy. The constructivist position is favoured. The paper also discusses issues in using the Internet to deliver courses, arguing that the delivery model does not take full advantage of the new possibilities offered by the technology. It then presents a case study of the use of the Web in a first year computer science course, offered in a Problem Based Learning (PBL) mode. The focus is on the appropriate use of the technology as a pedagogical tool in higher education. In the case of a curriculum clearly founded on constructivist principles an important factor in the appropriateness of the supporting technology was that it did not encourage staff and students to adopt more familiar, instructivist patterns of behaviour. In this sense, the role of the Internet within the curriculum needed to be different to those roles that currently tend to typify it.
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