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CONFERENCEPAPER·NOVEMBER2011

DOI:10.1109/NWeSP.2011.6088232·Source:IEEEXplore

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Web 2.0 Education:

An Evaluation of a Large-scale European pilot

Thomas M Connolly, Thomas Hainey, Gavin Baxter, Mark H Stansfield, Carole Gould

School of Computing, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland {thomas.connolly, thomas.hainey, gavin.baxter, mark.stansfield, carole.gould}@uws.ac.uk

Abstract— The Internet represents a new industrial revolution, arguably with a more significant socio-economic impact than the previous two industrial revolutions. The impact of the Internet has resulted in significant changes within education with eLearning now an accepted and commonplace form of education. However, the online tools that are used in eLearning tend to be first generation Web tools rather than second generation, Web 2.0, tools. Some reasons for this are the lack of empirical evidence supporting their use in education, the perceived complexity of the tools and lack of training. This paper presents the results of a large-scale European pilot into the use of Web 2.0 tools across all educational sectors through an innovative and simple-to-use platform that allows teachers to customize which Web 2.0 tools they wish to use in their courses.

Keywords - Web 2.0, education, evaluation

I.

INTRODUCTION

In the past 250 years, there have been two well documented industrial revolutions, starting with the first industrial revolution that lasted from about 1760 until 1830 and was founded on new methods of manufacturing based on iron and steam. These innovations stimulated new forms of transportation such as the steamship and the railroad, as well as the development of range of new machinery, which together created significant socio-economic changes. The second industrial revolution lasted from about 1875 to 1930 and was founded on inventions such as electricity, the telephone and the internal combustion engine and automobile, as well as new synthetics and alloys and new applications of steel and oil. Among the many socio- economic effects were greater mobility, a growing middle class and the beginnings of more widespread leisure time [1]. We are now witnessing the third industrial revolution formed by the creation and development of the Internet. As with the earlier two revolutions, the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people work, communicate and spend their leisure time. Within education, we have seen the move to online learning, or eLearning, with the convenience and flexibility that it offers with its (asynchronous) ‘anytime, anywhere, anyplace’ nature [2].

Nikolina Tsvetkova

Department of Philosophy

Rumyana Kusheva, Bistra Stoimenova, Rositsa Penkova, Mirena Legurska, Neli Dimitrova

Department of Information and In-service Teacher Training Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” Sofia, Bulgaria nina.tsvetkova@gmail.com, {kushevi_r, bstoimenova, r.penkova, legurska_mirena}@abv.bg, neli_di@gbg.bg

Since its inception, changes in Web tools have been rapid and, as with previous revolutions, some people have adapted to the new technologies more easily than others. While eLearning is now an accepted and commonplace form of education, the online tools that are used tend to be first generation Web tools rather than the second generation, Web 2.0, tools. There are a number of reasons for this, most notably the lack of empirical evidence supporting their use in education, the perceived complexity of the tools and lack of training. The Web2.0ERC European project aims to address these issues through the development of a very simple Web 2.0 eLearning platform that teachers can use, a training package for teachers and teacher trainers and an evaluation of a large-scale pilot of the platform across Europe. This paper reports on the evaluation of the pilot while Baxter et al. [3] discuss the pedagogical aspects of using Web 2.0 tools in education.

II. PREVIOUS RESEARCH

There are many definitions of the term Web 2.0. For example, Grosseck [4] defines it as “the social use of the Web which allows people to collaborate, to get actively involved in creating content, to generate knowledge and to share information online”. Augustsson [5] believes Web 2.0 tools are well suited for “collaborative learning, collective knowledge building, knowledge management, social networking and social interaction”. At the heart of many definitions are communication, content creation and collaboration, in which information is shared ‘many-to- many’ rather than being transmitted from one to many. Given these underlying elements, educationalists have been quick to identify the potential of Web 2.0 for supporting and enhancing learning, yet much of the discussion within the educational community has been speculative to date, with little empirical evidence of its effectiveness [3]. Selwyn [6] provides a taxonomy for Web 2.0 technologies based on four typically human dispositions:

expressive (media design, sharing and publication), reflective (blogs, wikis and social networking), exploratory (social bookmarking, syndication and folksonomies) and playful (games and virtual worlds). According to Redecker [7] based

on current practice, there are four different innovative ways of deploying Web 2.0 tools in education:

1. Learning & Achieving: used as methodological or didactic tools to directly support, facilitate, enhance and improve learning processes and outcomes. The Web 2.0 tools are seen as a means of personalizing learning processes and promoting the students’ individual learning progress, ultimately leading to an empowerment of the learner.

2. Networking: used as communication tools among students and between and among students and teachers, supporting also the exchange of knowledge and material, but mainly creating an environment of understanding and assistance, thus contributing to the establishment of social networks or communities between and among learners and teachers.

3. Embracing Diversity: used as a means of integrating learning into a wider community, reaching out to meet people from other age-groups, backgrounds and cultures, linking to experts, researchers or practitioners in a certain field of study and thus opening up alternative channels for gaining knowledge and enhancing skills;

4. Opening up to Society: used as tools for making institutional learning accessible and transparent for all members of society, promoting the involvement of third parties like parents, but also facilitating the access to information.

A. Social Software and Learning 2.0

It could be argued that the concept of eLearning is being enhanced by the rapid development of ‘social software’, a subset of Web 2.0 tools. McKelvie, Dotsika and Patrick [8] state that “social software is a community driven technology which facilitates interaction and collaboration and depends largely on social convention”. Though social software can be used on an individual basis it is predominately concerned with the notions of open and collective communication, dialogue and the ability to liaise with individuals collectively. The use of social software allows the learners to generate knowledge and share their learning experiences on a collective level as well as allowing users to openly reflect upon what they have learnt. eLearning distinguishes itself from social software as it is predominately associated with electronic instruction and is better suited for education and training purposes. Web 2.0 is transforming the way in which people learn as the learning is predominately social and self- directed in nature whereas eLearning is normally associated with individual learning. The use of social software and Web 2.0 technologies have given rise to the term ‘Learning 2.0’, which broadly summarizes all opportunities arising from the use of social media for learning, education or training.

B. The Pedagogy of Learning 2.0

The interactive and collaborative nature of social software makes it highly suited for sustaining and facilitating what are known as communities of practice (CoPs) or “groups of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise” [9: 139]. In

conjunction with the concept of CoPs, the learning theory of social constructivism complements and accommodates the principles surrounding the use and learning benefits associated with Learning 2.0. The constructivist view of learning adopts the stance that learners do not learn individually from one another and stresses the relevance of the socio-cultural context of learning. Predominately, social constructivism contends that knowledge is formulated through social interaction and collaborative learning. Social software is inherently applicable to social constructivism and CoPs, as one of the salient aspects of any CoP is its ability to construct and store collective knowledge in what has been referred to as a ‘shared repertoire of communal resources’ [10]. Additionally, CoPs are most usually distinctly defined by the concepts of collective understanding, mutual engagement and shared repertoire [10]. In addition to constructivism, the concept of social software can support a wide range of other learning approaches. For example, Crook et al. [11] believe that Web 2.0 also supports behaviourism, cognitivism and socio- cultural learning frameworks:

Behaviourism focuses on associations between actions and stimuli that affect subsequent actions (eg. a teacher providing guidance and encouragement that then shapes a learner's actions) [12]. Whilst behaviourism no longer dominates educational thinking, some Web 2.0 exchanges are suited to rich social learning interactions or intersubjective dialogues.

Cognitivism views learning as an internal process that involves memory, thinking, reflection, abstraction, motivation, and meta-cognition [13]. Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and ePortfolios support cognitivist approaches to learning.

Socio-cultural theories provide a context-based communicative perspective on teaching and learning. Learning is culturally influenced and a social rather than an individual process. Vygotsky believed that “human learning presupposes a specific social nature and a process by which children grow into the intellectual life of those around them” [14: 89]. Language plays a vital role in enabling the learner to participate, interact with others and solve problems, and is therefore essential to learning. These theories involve externalising thinking through creative activities such as writing, again in social contexts possibly scaffolded by the teacher. In fact, Paavola, Lipponen and Hakkarainen [15] state that most of the CSCL literature relies on the socio-cultural theory of learning.

C. Towards an Education 2.0

Selwyn, Crook, Noss and Laurillard [16] argue that it is incumbent upon educationalists to find ways to reduce the gap between informal practices and formal procedures, and encourage more imaginative and empowering uses of Web 2.0 by learners and teachers. Suggestions include:

Re-imagining pedagogy and practice: Pedagogy and educational practice should be realigned with the spirit of Web 2.0, namely, a sense of play, expression, reflection and exploration, and importantly, creating rather than only consuming content. This will entail (i) re-configuring the role of the teacher into a more facilitating role to support leaner autonomy and collaborative learning; (ii) re- configuring the role of education institutions to support the new forms of learning associated with Web 2.0 use, becoming sites of exploration rather than restriction; (iii) re-configuring forms of assessment around decision-making, adaptability and cooperation and validation of informal learning; (iv) re-configuring the curriculum, particularly to take advantage of the constructionist potential of Web 2.0 (eg. learner-led curricula) and to encourage the learner creation of knowledge, creativity and exploration.

Re-imagining Web 2.0 technologies: Education has its own specific needs and requirements and rather than re-purpose the current set of Web2.0 leisure tools, new Web 2.0-based educational technologies should be developed that support learning through inquiry, discussion, production and practice. Consideration could be given to use of open source technology, which can interact with the development of Web 2.0.

III.

METHODOLOGY

The methodology used in this research is quasi- experimental as a control group was not possible. Students were asked to complete an online pre-test questionnaire prior to using the Web2.0ERC platform. The pre-test questionnaire was designed to collect: basic demographic information (gender, age, level of education, number of years using Internet in their personal life and at school/university), experience of using Web 2.0 tools, and expectations for the pilot course. Participants then used the Web2.0ERC platform using the course designed by their teacher and supported by their teacher. The period of use was from typically 2-8 weeks. Students were then asked to complete an online post- test questionnaire, designed to collect: their experiences of using the Web 2.0 tools and their views of the pilot course and the Web2.0ERC platform. The two questionnaires were coded and transferred into SPSS version 18 for detailed analysis. Over 1,000 students used the platform between December 2010 and July 2011 of whom 710 students completed the pre-test survey and 626 completed the post- test survey. The purpose of the study was to obtain empirical evidence on the use of Web 2.0 tools and specifically answer the following research questions:

1. What do students understand as Web 2.0 tools?

2. What tools are students most proficient at using and does the Web 2.0 ERC platform increase proficiency in specific Web 2.0 tools?

3. What tools do students consider to be most useful for education?

4. Are there differences in the proficiency and perceived usefulness of these tools between teachers and students?

IV.

RESULTS

710 students completed the pre-test questionnaire. 385 (54.2%) were female and 325 (45.8%) were male. The mean age of participants was 21.18 years (SD=6.29) with a range of 11 to 88. A Mann-Whitney U test indicated that there was no significant difference in age in relation to gender (Z=- 1.014, p<0.311). The majority of participants (475, 67%) indicated that they were in Further/Higher Education, 87 participants (12%) in Adult Education, 74 (10%) in upper secondary education, 51 participants (7%) in lower secondary education, 23 (3%) in primary education. To calculate the mean amount of time that students had been using the Internet in their personal lives and at school/university, the time bands used as responses were recoded with their mean value (i.e. 1-5 years was recoded as 3, 6-10 was recoded as 8, 11-15 was recoded as 13, and 16- 20 was recoded as 18). Using the recoded data the mean time students spent using the Internet in their personal lives was 8.25 years (SD=4.04) with a range of 3 to 18. The mean using the Internet at school/university was 6.14 years (SD 3.83) with a range of 3 to 18. A Wilcoxon match pairs signed ranks test indicated that students had used the Internet for significantly longer in their personal lives than at school/university (Z=-13.741, p<0.000). 648 participants (91.2%) indicated that they enjoy learning with ICT with many seeing it as a key tool for learning. The students were asked what particular Web 2.0 tools they would like to use in class, the results were as follows:

451

(64%) selected YouTube, 393 (55%) selected Wikis,

352

(50%) selected Blogs, 346 (49%) selected Facebook,

274

(39%) selected GoogleDocs, 158 (22%) selected Online

collaborative games, 116 (16%) selected Social bookmarking, 108 (15%) selected Twitter, 103 (14%) selected ePortfolios, 97 (13%) selected Podcasts and 70 (10%) selected Flickr. Students were asked what they understood by the term Web 2.0 and were given 5 responses, from which they could select one or more answers. The

results are shown in Fig. 1. 345 students selected option 1,

280 selected 2, 363 selected 3, 365 selected 4 and 289

selected 5; however, only 34% chose 3 and 4 and 5, which would suggest the majority do not fully understand the term. Participants were asked to rate their proficiency at using different Web 2.0 tools on a Likert scale where 5 represented ‘very good’, 4 represented ‘good’, 3 represented ‘neutral’, 2 represented ‘poor’ and 1 represented ‘very poor’. The results are shown in Table I. The participants indicated that they were most proficient at using in order YouTube, Facebook and GoogleDocs. Flickr, Podcast and ePortfolios were the tools that participants felt they were least proficient at using. Mann-Whitney U tests indicated that there were significant differences between gender and student proficiency for Facebook (Z=-6.331, p<0.000) with females having a higher level of proficiency. Males had a higher level of proficiency for Flickr (Z=-2.445, p<0.014), Podcast (Z=-3.338,

p<0.001), ePortfolios (Z=-2.003, p<0.045) and Online collaborative games (Z=-4.214, p<0.000). Participants were also asked about where they used the different Web 2.0 tools and could specify: at home, at school/university/in the office or both. Table II shows the results.

the office or both. Table II shows the results. 1. A modern form of Internet tools

1. A modern form of Internet tools

2. Internet tools that allow people to search for information more efficiently

3. Internet tools that allow people to create content

4. Internet tools that allow people to share content

5. Internet tools that allow people to communicate

Figure 1.

Students understanding of the term Web 2.0

TABLE I.

PARTICIPANTS RATINGS OF THEIR PROFICIENCY USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS

Web 2.0 Technology

Rating

Mean

SD

YouTube

1 st

4.20

0.97

Facebook

2 nd

4.13

1.14

GoogleDocs

3 rd

3.40

1.21

Wikis

4 th

3.38

1.15

Blogs

5 th

3.10

1.20

Online collaborative games

6 th

3.07

1.32

Social bookmarking

7 th

2.71

1.19

Twitter

8 th

2.65

1.28

ePortfolios

9 th

2.51

1.15

Podcast

10 th

2.47

1.15

Flickr

11 th

2.44

1.15

A. Student Post-Test Questionnaire Results

626 participants completed the post-test questionnaire. The participants were again asked what they would consider the definition of Web 2.0 to be after the completion of the course. A Wilcoxon matched pairs signed ranks test indicated that there was no significant difference in views of what Web 2.0 tools were between the pre and post-tests (Z=- 1.840, p<0.066). In terms of answering research question 1, the majority of participants viewed Web 2.0 tools as: a modern form of Internet tools to communicate, create and share content and search for information more efficiently. Participants were asked to rate the usefulness of the tools of the Web2.0ERC platform on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 represented ‘definitely not useful’, 2 ‘useful to a small

extent’, 3 ‘neutral’, 4 ‘useful to a large’ extent and 5 was ‘completely useful’. The results are shown in Table III.

TABLE II.

WHERE PARTICIPANTS USED WEB 2.0 TOOLS

Web 2.0 Technology

Home

 

School/

 

Both

University/

 
 

Office

Blogs

236

(33%)

154

(22%)

140

(20%)

Wikis

142

(20%)

170

(24%)

262

(37%)

YouTube

295

(42%)

27

(4%)

205

(29%)

Flickr

138

(19%)

64

(9%)

29

(4%)

Facebook

256

(36%)

30

(4%)

220

(31%)

GoogleDocs

123

(17%)

122

(17%)

233

(33%)

Twitter

187

(26%)

36

(5%)

53

(7%)

Podcast

143

(20%)

61

(8%)

38

(5%)

ePortfolios

94 (13%)

106

(15%)

43

(6%)

Social bookmarking

127

(18%)

86

(12%)

36

(5%)

Online

collaborative

230

(32%)

30

(4%)

51

(7%)

games

     

TABLE III.

PARTICIPANTS RATINGS OF THE USEFULNESS OF THE TOOLS EXPERIENCED

Web 2.0 Technology

Rating

Mean

SD

Blogs

1 st

3.45

1.30

YouTube

2 nd

3.40

1.43

Wikis

3 rd

3.36

1.38

Facebook

4 th

2.99

1.53

GoogleDocs

5 th

2.75

1.41

Social bookmarking

6 th

2.50

1.29

Online collaborative games

7 th

2.43

1.39

ePortfolios

8 th

2.25

1.26

Podcast

9 th

2.21

1.26

Twitter

10 th

2.07

1.26

Flickr

11 th

2.04

1.21

Blogs, YouTube, Wikis and Facebook were rated as the

most useful tools and ePortfolios, Podcast and Twitter were

rated as the least useful tools. Mann-Whitney U tests

indicated that females believed that Blogs were significantly

more useful than males (Z=-6.767, p<0.000). Females also

indicated that they considered Facebook to be significantly

more useful than males (Z=-3.390, p<0.001). There were no

significant differences associated with any of the other Web

2.0 tools.

Participants were asked to rate their proficiency at using the different Web 2.0 tools on a Likert scale after they experienced the activities on the Web2.0ERC platform, where 5 represented ‘very good’, 4 represented ‘good’, 3 represented ‘neutral’, 2 ‘poor’ and 1 ‘very poor’. The results are shown in Table IV and indicate that the respondents still felt most proficient using YouTube, however, Facebook had dropped to fourth in the ratings. Participants still rated the following tools as the technologies that they were least proficient at using: ePortfolios, Podcast and Flickr. Mann- Whitney U tests indicated that females rated themselves as significantly more proficient at using Blogs than males (Z=- 3.339, p<0.001). Females also rated themselves significantly more proficient at using YouTube (Z=-2.258, p<0.024) and Facebook (Z=-4.140, p<0.000). Males rated themselves as significantly more proficient at using Online collaborative

games (Z=-2.511, p<0.012). There were no significant difference between males and females with regards to any of the other Web 2.0 tools. In terms of answering research question 2, participants were most proficient at using the following Web 2.0 tools: YouTube, Blogs, Wikis, Facebook and GoogleDocs and least proficient at using Flickr and Podcasts. This result is consistent in the pre and post-tests. Participants were also asked to rate how often they would like to use the Web 2.0 tools for educational purposes on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being ‘every day’, 4 being ‘most days’, 3 being ‘sometimes’, 2 being ‘almost never’ and 1 being ‘never’. The results are shown in Table V. In terms of answering research question 3, YouTube, Facebook, Wikis and Blogs were rated as the most popular Web 2.0 tools that participants would like to see used for educational purposes. Podcast, Twitter and Flickr were the least popular tools. Mann-Whitney U tests indicated that females would like to use the following Web 2.0 tools significantly more than males: Blogs (Z=-6.116, p<0.000), YouTube (Z=-2.281, p<0.023), Flickr (Z=-3.644, p<0.000), Facebook (Z=-4.200, p<0.000), GoogleDocs (Z=-2.577, p<0.010), Twitter (Z=- 2.702, p<0.007), Podcast (-3.565, p<0.000), ePortfolios (Z=- 4.140, p<0.000) and Social bookmarking (Z=-2.539, p<0.011). There were no significant gender differences with regards to Wikis (Z=-0.275, p<0.783) and Online collaborative games (Z=-0.371, p<0.711). The results suggest that females may be more receptive to the use of Web 2.0 technologies for educational purposes as they were more significantly favourable to nine of the tools.

TABLE IV.

PARTICIPANTS RATINGS OF THEIR PROFICIENCY USING WEB 2.0 TOOLS IN THE POST-TEST

 

Web 2.0 Technology

Rating

Mean

SD

YouTube

1 st

3.92

1.16

Blogs

2 nd

3.72

1.10

Wikis

3 rd

3.58

1.23

Facebook

4 th

3.59

1.47

GoogleDocs

5 th

2.96

1.40

Social bookmarking

6 th

2.61

1.34

Online collaborative games

7 th

2.60

1.43

Twitter

8 th

2.41

1.40

ePortfolios

9 th

2.36

1.30

Podcast

10 th

2.35

1.33

Flickr

11 th

2.33

1.32

TABLE V.

 

PARTICIPANTS RATINGS OF HOW OFTEN THEY WOULD

LIKE TO USE WEB 2.0 TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES

Web 2.0 Technology

Rating

Mean

SD

YouTube

1 st

3.59

1.13

Facebook

2 nd

3.32

1.33

Wikis

3 rd

3.25

1.06

Blogs

4 th

3.18

1.01

GoogleDocs

5 th

3.01

1.22

Online collaborative games

6 th

2.61

1.23

Social bookmarking

7 th

2.52

1.15

ePortfolios

8 th

2.42

1.13

Podcast

9 th

2.32

1.17

Twitter

10 th

2.31

1.20

Flickr

11 th

2.25

1.07

The participants were asked to evaluate their experience of the Web 2.0 tools used in the Web2.0ERC platform in terms of usability, learning effectiveness and whether they enjoyed it. Generally the results indicate that that none of the Web 2.0 tools seem particularly difficult to use. YouTube, Facebook, Blogs and Wikis seem to be rated more ‘very easy’ to use where the rest of the Web 2.0 tools seem to be neither easy nor difficult to use. The Web 2.0 tool with the highest rating of ‘very difficult’ was Flickr. In terms of learning effectiveness, the results suggest that the most effective Web 2.0 tools for learning were: Blogs, Wikis, YouTube, GoogleDocs and Facebook. The preliminary results suggest that the most ineffective Web 2.0 tool for learning was Flickr. In terms of enjoyableness, the results suggest that YouTube, Facebook, Blogs and Wikis were the most enjoyable Web 2.0 tools. The results show that Flickr, Twitter, Podcasts, ePortfolios and Social bookmarking were less enjoyable. Participants were also asked what aspects they liked and disliked most about the platform in terms of usability/ease of navigation, graphics and layout and also content. In terms of what participants liked about the platform, the highest rated attribute was usability and ease of navigation. Content was rated the second highest attribute that participants liked about the platform and graphics and layout were rated the lowest attributes. This results are consistent with what participants disliked about the platform as the highest rated attribute was graphics and layout, content was the second highest rated and usability and ease of navigation were the lowest rated attributes. The results indicate that the largest area of improvement for the platform is graphics and layout.

B. Proficiency Comparison of Using Web 2.0 Tools

422 participants completed both the pre-test and the post-

test. This means that the data can be analysed as a dependent

group. A Wilcoxon match pairs signed ranks test indicated

that there was a significant increase in proficiency with

regards to the following Web 2.0 tools: Blogs (Z=-8.291,

p<0.000) and Wikis (Z=-4.230, p<0.000). There was a

significant decrease in proficiency with regards to: YouTube

(Z=-3.835, p<0.000), Facebook (Z=-7.876, p<0.000),

GoogleDocs (Z=-4.798, p<0.000), Twitter (Z=-2.640, p

<0.008), Podcast (Z=-2.973, 0.003), ePortfolios (Z=-2.951,

p<0.003) and Online collaborative games (Z=-5.706, p<0.000). There were no significant differences in proficiency with regards to Flickr (Z=-1.417, p<0.157) and Social Bookmarking (Z=-1.490, p<0.136). This result possibly indicates that the Web2.0ERC platform is more

suited to increasing proficiency with regards to Blogs and

Wikis. As proficiency decreased in seven of the Web 2.0

tools this may indicate that the initial ratings that students

assigned themselves in the pre-test may have been an

overestimation or the Web2.0ERC platform may have

provided a mechanism to show that they did not know as

much about these tools as they initially anticipated. With

respect to research question 2, the platform seems well suited

to increasing proficiency in Blogs and Wikis.

288 participants completed the pre-test who had not completed the post-test and 204 participants completed the

post-test who had not completed the pre-test. These groups can be analysed as independent groups in terms of proficiency. Mann-Whitney U tests indicated that participants in the post-test were significantly more proficient at using Blogs (Z=-6.109, p<0.000), possibly suggesting that the Web2.0ERC platform is well suited to improving proficiency of using Blogs. Participants in the pre-test were significantly more proficient at using YouTube (Z=-3.677, p<0.000), Facebook (Z=-4.490, p<0.000), GoogleDocs (Z=-4.792, p<0.000), Twitter (Z=-2.807, p<0.005) and Online collaborative games (Z=-4.351,

p<0.000).

C. Comparison between Teachers and Students

227 teachers also completed a pre-test questionnaire with similar questions to the students. Students rated their proficiency significantly higher than teachers in the use of every Web 2.0 tool. In terms of the amount of time spent using different Web 2.0 tools, Mann-Whitney U tests indicated that teachers used Blogs (Z=-3.311, p<0.001) and Social bookmarking (Z=-6.058, p<0.000) for significantly longer than students. Mann-Whitney U tests also showed that students use Online collaborative games for significantly more time than teachers (Z=-3.310, p<0.001). In terms of usefulness, teachers rated all of the Web 2.0 tools significantly more useful than students. In terms of answering research question 4, students rated their proficiency as higher than teachers in relation to every Web 2.0 tool and teachers found all Web 2.0 significantly more useful than students.

V. CONCULSIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS

The aim of this paper was to evaluate the results from a quasi-experiment on the use of a novel Web 2.0 platform by students. The platform was used by over 1,000 students of whom 710 completed the pre-test and 626 completed the post-test, in addition to 227 teachers who completed a pre- test survey. The results indicate that the students generally enjoyed the use of the platform and they found the Web 2.0 tools easy to use. With regards research question 1, the majority of students viewed Web 2.0 as modern forms of Internet tools to communicate, create and share content and search for information more efficiently. The Web 2.0ERC platform did not significantly alter student perceptions of this. With regards research question 2, students believed that they were most proficient at using YouTube, Blogs, Wikis, Facebook and GoogleDocs and least proficient at using Flickr and Podcasts. The students believed their proficiency in the use of Blogs and Wikis increased through the use of the platform. In terms of research question 3, YouTube, Facebook, Wikis and Blogs were rated as the most popular Web 2.0 tools that students would like to see used for educational purposes and Podcast, Twitter and Flickr were the least popular tools. Finally with regards research question 4, as might have been expected, students rated their proficiency in the use of Web 2.0 tools significantly higher than teachers who used the same platform. Teachers also viewed every tool as significantly more useful than students.

The pilot of the platform has been successful and the project aims to roll out the platform more widely in 2012.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This work is supported by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme under contract 504839-LLP-1-2009-1-UK-KA3-

KA3MP.

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