Blended Collaborative Cloud Learning: Foundations and Practice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

Teaching Computer Science, the fastest evolving contemporary technology, in a career-
focused third level institution, to increasingly diverse and larger groups of students with

fewer resources while attempting to address the serious, universal, longstanding and
apparently intrinsic, educational concerns associated with teaching Computer Science,
a field sometimes described as ‘asocial’, is a challenge. As robust correlation between
high levels of student engagement, a concept based on the social constructivist theory
of learning, and positive academic achievement has been established in many studies
since the mid-90s, increasing student engagement in Computer Science courses is
deemed imperative, urgent and particularly challenging.
We report on a case study spanning four years and involving 133 students on the use of
a Web 2.0 suite of cloud-based office tool, Google Docs, to deliver a blended,
collaborative, cloud-based approach to learning. The work explains how constructivism
can be reinforced within a modern, blended, learning environment. Key statistical
findings include how the use of the commenting facility within Google Docs deployed
to increase social constructivism in students, is positively correlated (R=0.50, statistical
significance ⍴<0.01) with their academic performance. The effect strength measured
implies that these students, who tend to eschew traditional, particularly oral,
engagement techniques, can increase their overall academic mark by six to seven
percentage points on average (or +0.4 to +0.5 standard deviation) by contributing, over
an academic year, ten public comments within the teaching material. We also reflect on
the students' own voice to better understand their personal disposition towards low
levels of engagements.
The approach is defined as Blended Collaborative Cloud Learning. It aims to reinforce
constructivist practices. The four year case study illustrates how social constructivism
in a challenging environment can be increased. It demonstrates the positive effects of
such an increase on the average academic performance of students.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Title of host publication9th International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy, ICEP
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Third Level Education
  • Social Constructivism
  • Engagement, Blended Learning
  • Web 2.0

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