“Do we have to use a wiki, Miss?” How Web 2.0 technologies can support students as inquiry learners in a secondary school

Lynette Hay

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    The study explored the use of Web 2.0 technologies by students in a secondary school inquiry learning setting. In particular, it aimed to examine how Web 2.0 technologies can be used to support students' completion of an inquiry project, and the different types of instructional intervention that a teacher librarian and class teacher can provide in the context of this kind of learning task. It also explored how student learning styles may impact on students' levels of use of Web 2.0 technologies when undertaking inquiry on a topic of personal interest, and how student, teacher, and teacher librarian experiences with Web 2.0 technologies might influence their views on using these in the future to support learning.

    The study adopted ethnography as the overarching methodological approach and used a mixed methods approach to the collection of qualitative and quantitative data. Constructivist learning theory was used as an interpretivist lens for exploring the
    participants’ inquiry and technology experiences in the study, with Personal Construct Theory, Social Construction Theory and Zone of Proximal Development used in interpreting the qualitative data. Entwistle’s Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) was used to explore students’ approaches to learning and technology

    The findings and conclusions presented in the thesis contribute to research and professional practice in eight ways. The study identified seven broad functions that Web 2.0 technologies can provide students, teachers and TLs while undertaking inquiry
    projects, and presents a Technology Functionality Matrix as a scaffold to identify the features and functionality of the Web 2.0 tools to assist those interested in trialling one or more of the Web 2.0 tools examined in this thesis. The study also identified a set of seven criteria for determining technology use which students apply when critically
    evaluating technologies that are available to them to support their learning. The study also identified three mental models of technologies – vagueness, technicality and enrichment – which can influence the way individual’s approach the use of technologies.

    The concept of a student’s personal technology toolkit was identified as a key element impacting on a student’s approach to technology use. This toolkit represents those technologies that students have adopted as their preferred or default suite of tools and techniques to meet their learning and personal needs. It was found when students are given a choice to use technologies to support their learning, they will draw upon their own personal suite of tools and techniques to complete learning tasks, unless they are exposed to other tools or techniques that could help them complete a task more efficiently, effectively or creatively than they would achieve with their existing toolkit. The study also concluded that students’ lack of project management knowledge,
    processes and skills is an inhibiting factor affecting their progress throughout the inquiry experience. As a result, the study has developed a project management framework that combines an information process model with project management
    processes to highlight those aspects of the student inquiry experience where project management scaffolding could assist with students’ planning and management of project tasks, and has shown how Web 2.0 technologies can be used to support students’ project management/inquiry process.

    The concept of a students’ individual learning team was also identified. The study showed how students (by Year 10) have the capacity to independently construct and maintain their own learning team that draws upon a mix of teachers, TLs, classmates,
    family, friends, and outside experts, based on five types of expertise the student perceives they bring to the inquiry experience. In addition, the study has identified the potential of Web 2.0 technologies as a platform for teachers and teacher librarians to
    support eight different types of instructional intervention when supporting students undertaking inquiry.

    The most significant contribution the study makes to the fields of library and information sciences and education research is a new theory called the Personal Construction of Technology Use (PCTU) Theory. This theory provides an explanation of how students’ experiences with Web 2.0 technologies influence their views on using these technologies
    to support learning. The domains, dimensions, processes and principles of the PCTU Theory provides a set of propositions for further empirical investigation within each, or across the fields, of information behaviour and use, teaching and learning, technology use and adoption, and constructivist learning theory. It also provides educators with a model that articulates one way of interpreting students’ information, technology and inquiry learning experiences in a blended classroom environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Williamson, Kirsty, Principal Supervisor
    • Dalgarno, Barney, Principal Supervisor
    Award date31 Mar 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2017


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