Dissertation Abstract

Construction and Reflection: Using Web 2.0 to Foster Engagement with Technology in Information Literacy Instruction

This instrumental case study is concerned with how library students in an online graduate course about information literacy instruction used Web 2.0 technologies to learn about course concepts related to information literacy and educational technology. Glogster, PBworks, Diigo, and Prezi were used in course assignments to foster student learning related to core information literacy concepts and to reflect upon Web 2.0 and its role in instruction. Two research questions grounded this study:

1.      How do attributes of Web 2.0 tools enhance and hinder the construction of knowledge related to information literacy instruction and educational technology?

2.      How does the use of Web 2.0 tools in a course on information literacy instruction foster aspects of the constructivist learning theory?

This study is specifically concerned with librarians who teach. Librarians, especially those in public and school library settings are often the gatekeepers to computers and the Internet. In a university setting, they are typically the educators who teach about using online resources for coursework through one-shot and for-credit information literacy courses. In many studies on educational technology, emphasis is placed on whether students are learning, but when using these technologies to teach future educators, it is equally important to understand how they are used and if the students found them useful. Only then will educators discover how to encourage students to use technology in their own teaching and be open to new technologies as they progress through their professional lives.

A qualitative approach was taken for data collection and analysis. The course in this study was conducted online and consisted of one instructor, who was also the researcher, and seventeen graduate students. Observations were done on assigned activities and discussion threads. Documents that were analyzed consisted mainly of course assignments, emails, and online discussions. Surveys included a pre-survey given out the first week of class and a post-survey during the last week of class. Both surveys contained open-ended questions that related to Web 2.0, education, and information literacy.

Both analytic and descriptive qualitative methods were employed for this case study. The perspectives of the study participants and their perceptions of the course Web 2.0 activities guided the research findings. The educational theory of constructivism and its adherence to reflection, active learning, and social interaction was used to find patterns in the data. Activity theory provided a framework for data analysis and interpretation related to the patterns of activities that took place while students used each Web 2.0 tool.

Findings revealed that Web 2.0 tools both enhance and hinder the learning of course content. The tools enhanced learning because they fostered engagement, excitement, creativity, collaboration, and class discussions. Learning was hindered by because these technologies could sometimes lead to distractions from the learning objectives. Web 2.0 technologies also helped and hindered the use of constructivist learning theory for the course. They fostered aspects of active learning, reflection, and social interaction, but could also lead to data overload and extraneous learning. Pedagogy also greatly influenced the learning that took place during the Web 2.0 activities. It was found to both enhance and hinder this learning.

Web 2.0 tools have the potential to help students hone their information literacy skills and participate with media and technology at higher intellectual levels. However, when used as educational tools, Web 2.0 technologies are each unique and conclusions about their use need to be articulated in a manner that acknowledges these differences. Because of this, it is necessary to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools in order to maximize their educational potential. Therefore, the educator still plays a key role in fostering student learning through the use of technology. It is the educator that must purposely choose technologies and design course work that aligns technology use with course objectives.

Excerpted from:
Magnuson, M.L. (2012). Construction and reflection: Using Web 2.0 to foster engagement with technology in information literacy instruction. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3520737)