Joining Informal Learning in Online Knowledge Communities and Formal Learning in Higher Education: Instructional Design and Evaluation of a Blended-Learning Seminar with Learning Analytics Support

Nicolae Nistor, Mihai Dascalu, Stefan Trausan-Matu
pp. 110 – 127, download


The use of online knowledge communities (OKCs) as informal learning environments in connection with formal learning encounters two main issues: the learning guidance issue, and the newcomer integration issue. While the former can be solved by instructional design, the latter is still open and may be solved by Social Learning Analytics (SLA). This paper proposes B-LABS (Blogs and Learning Analytics Based Seminar), a higher education seminar with a formal component as a face-to-face seminar, and an informal component comprising learning in OKCs. B-LABS was carried out with N= 65 undergraduate students. SLA tools were employed to select responsive OKCs that were likely to integrate newcomers. The students successfully followed the B-LABS script; learning outcomes included students’ insight in mathematics didactics, and knowledge of OKC specific educational approaches. Student acceptance of the learning environment was predicted by performance expectancy and perceived social influence. Future development includes refining functions predicting the likeliness of OKC newcomer integration.

Keywords:  improving classroom teaching; online knowledge building communities; media in education; pedagogical issues; post-secondary education.

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