The Web Science Trust


Castaño-Muñoz, Jonatan and M. Duart-Montoliu, Josep (2009) WEB 2.0 USES IN CATALAN HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM. In: Proceedings of the WebSci'09: Society On-Line, 18-20 March 2009, Athens, Greece. (In Press)

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Historically, education has been able to adapt and use the institutional, legal and social changes arising from the latest communication technologies in each era. For example, the invention of writing, the printing press or, more recently, radio, television, computers and the internet have led to important changes in teaching and learning processes. The latest technological infrastructure that has to be adapted to is the Web. Over recent years, we have seen how education in developed countries, whether distance or brick-and-mortar, is increasingly based on the Web. Given the dynamic nature of the Web, which has and continues to evolve technically, socially and organisationally, education faces increasingly more challenges in terms of making the most of its potential (Minguillón, 2008). Innovations are always one step ahead of their social and institutional adoption. Despite the fact that there are already studies on the usefulness of or need for Web 3.0, or the Semantic Web, in education (Devedzic, 2004), in terms of Rogers’ famous bell curve (Rogers, 2003), the process of adoption of Web 2.0 seems still not to have reached the majority. Thus, this paper does not intend to look at a recent innovation or contribute new ideas for future developments in education and the Web, but instead to analyse the state of adoption of Web 2.0 in higher education (with respect to the institutions, faculty and students) now that some years have passed since its first applications emerged and since Tim O’Reilly gave it its name . The initial hypothesis for the research is that Web 2.0 is still in its infancy in terms of its use in education due to a range of factors, which are principally technical, institutional and social. Methods To meet the aims set, we studied the public universities in Catalonia, Spain. The data presented came from the “University and Network Society” project led by the UOC . This project was based principally on a web survey, though not entirely as it also included information from qualitative interviews with members of the universities’ governing bodies to study the policies being introduced to promote the use of ICTs in education. The sample included all those students enrolled for the academic year 2004-2005 and all the faculty in the Catalan public university directories for the academic year 2005-2006. The internet was, then, both the object of study and the medium for the investigation. In both cases, we had a list of email addresses, a widespread internet infrastructure and control over the number of responses per person, which ensured improved results. The level of response was quite high, which allowed for precise profiling of the group of individuals taking part in the survey. The data included basic population characteristics (such as sex and age) and data that allowed us to select cases so as to match responses to factors that were not connected to these basic population characteristics, such as the university they belonged to. Due to the descriptive and multi-strategic nature of the research, the information analysis techniques involved qualitative analysis of the contents of the interviews and descriptive analysis of the variables, bivariate analyses and data-association analyses of the data from the survey. Results The results of this study show that there are no excessive differences between the universities with respect to the actual educational use of the Web, regardless of whether, as an institution, they have invested more in the introduction of the Web in education than others. The common factor in the teaching and learning process is the “traditional” use of the Web, rather than the empowering of users (students) as creators, and not simply consumers, that Web 2.0 enables. In other words, the Web is used in Catalan universities as a repository for subject materials and information and as a way for faculty and students to communicate, on an individual basis and, above all, via email. These traditional uses of the Web in education are in sharp contrast to the most innovative uses made in the private sector and, especially, amongst the students themselves who have two of the basic criteria of the innovative internet user: youth and high levels of education. According to our study, the reasons for this are, firstly, an overly simple institutional plan for the introduction and use of internet in teaching, based on the incorporation of basic technological platforms, rather than analysis of the methods and tools that encourage or aid learning. Secondly, and on many occasions as a result of the restrictions imposed by the technological platform, the lack of innovative educational models that promote elements of Web 2.0. These include more social, relational, cooperative and creative elements for students that enable them to use the Web for education, overcoming the one-way nature of the teaching and allowing for collective knowledge building. Data to confirm the hypotheses set out can be seen in the comparison of the variables relating to interaction in the two forms of teaching. The highest levels of interaction are between teacher and student and the lowest amongst the students. The latter are at similar levels in students on both online and blended courses. This shows us that the traditional teaching model based on communication between teacher and student remains in the forms of teaching that introduce the internet whether as a complementary or the sole medium. We can see that in an informational model in which access to information is available to both groups involved in the teaching and learning process that the traditional two-way interaction model between teacher and student, between sender and receiver, reappears. This is confirmation of the fact that the educational model has not changed. Previous studies have shown that Spanish universities do not have clear policies or guidelines to stimulate or encourage use of the Web beyond provision of the technology (Duart and Lupiañez, 2005). Catalan universities do not seem to be the exception to this rule, as there is little innovative institutional action to transform educational methodologies using the potential of Web 2.0. There are only isolated activities of certain groups of teachers and students that are unable to make any global changes (at least in principle). Thus, the data would seem to confirm the initial hypothesis that the adoption of elements of Web 2.0 in higher education is still in its infancy; despite the increasing numbers, we are still at the stage of the so-called early adopters or lone rangers (Bates, 2000). Nonetheless, from a global Web Science perspective (Berners-Lee et al. 2006), we have reason to believe that use of Web 2.0 in education will quickly move from the early adopters to the majority. The political and social changes brought on by the European Higher Education Area will act as a catalyst for technological changes in virtual learning environments. This will allow for the introduction of new Web 2.0 tools (wikis, blogs, social networks, etc.) and the institutional and methodological changes needed to make the most of these environments. References - Bates, A. W. T. (2000). Managing Technological Change: Strategies for Colleges and University Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. - Berners-Lee, T; Hall, W; Hendler, J.A; Shadbolt, N. & Weitzner, D.J. (2006): “Creating a Science of the Web”. Science. Vol. 313, (5788), pp. 769-771. August 2006. - Devedzic, V. (2004): “Education and the Semantic Web”. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education 14, pp. 39-65. (Accessed: 29/10/08). - Duart, J. M. & Lupiáñez, F. (2005): “E-strategias en la introducción y uso de las TIC en la universidad”. In: Duart, J.M.; Lupiañez, F. (coords.). Las TIC en la universidad: estrategia y transformación institucional [online monograph]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 2, iss. 1. UOC. (Accessed: 29/10/08). - Duart, J.M; Gil, M; Pujol, M. & Castaño, J. (2008): La universidad en la sociedad red. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel. - Minguillón, J. (2008). “L’e-learning des de la perspectiva de la Web Science: una visió de futur”. In: “Web Science: la ciència del Web” [online dossier] UOC Papers. Iss. 7. UOC. (Accessed: 29/10/08). - O’Reilly, T. (2005): “What Is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software” (Accessed: 29/10/08). - Rogers, Everett M. (2003): Diffusion of Innovations, 5th ed. New York, NY: Free Press.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Uncontrolled Keywords:web 2.0,, Higher education, Catalonia, Internet, Technology adoption
Subjects:Web Science Events > Web Science 2009
ID Code:153
Deposited By: W S T Administrator
Deposited On:24 Jan 2009 08:45
Last Modified:25 Oct 2011 16:11

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