Two Decades of e-learning in Distance Teaching – From Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 at the University of Hagen
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Technology changed the way of learning and teaching during the last twenty years to today a great deal. The change started in the 70’s with the increasing use of technology in education and spread out at the beginning of the 90’s with the upcoming Internet, was followed by the development of Learning Management Systems and nowadays the new and easy to use possibilities of Web 2.0. All these technologies could lead to new forms of learning, teaching, information gathering and managing, communicating, collaborating, and networking. It seems natural to adapt the new technologies to higher education, especially to distance education, as there a many known problems: E. g. in Germany no study fees are allowed. How to finance highly interactive, small classes? Another problem are the professional restrictions of distance students, their time budget is limited. The consequence is that normally students have very limited contact to their peers and their tutors until the final examinations. The drop-out rates are extremely high (more than 80%) and a lot of students study more than six years to reach a degree.
The deployment of virtual teaching improved the situation substantially, but not enough. Web 2.0 could open up new possibilities to improve this situation.
In Germany a nation-wide study examined the impact of Web 2.0 on the studying process. Unfortunately, only on-campus students were included in this survey. However, research and experience in the field of e-learning clearly show that technology based learning is especially interesting and useful for distance students. The University of Hagen, the only public distance teaching university in the German speaking countries with about 80.000 students, is the perfect test-bed for new forms of technology-supported learning. Therefore we did a research survey about the effect of Web 2.0, especially community usage, on distance students to find out the students’ current preferences and needs. The results of this study revealed important insights into the use of new technology and particularly into the wishes and needs of distance students. These insights lead to a new understanding of essential aspects of e-learning not only in distance education. An interesting example is the low value students attribute to traditional learning management systems. This paper will give a short review from the beginning to today and then compare the outcome of the two studies in relevant areas and gives suggestions for Web 2.0 usage in e-learning environments.
Keywordse-learning Web 1.0 Web 2.0 distance education learning management systems
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