Learning is personalized through the use of web tools in a variety of ways.   Web 2.0 provides a range of learning environments. Tools allow the learner to choose which resources and sites to subscribe and contribute to, which tools to use, and how and where to use them (McLoughlin & Lee, 2008).

Personalization is achieved by enabling the learner to choose which type of learning environment to use.  For example, the student could choose an individual workspace such as a blog, or create a wiki to work collaboratively.  Also, blogs, wikis and social networking sites provide users with variety of platforms to choose from. When creating a blog, for example, the learner could choose from a number of different providers, such as WordPress. Additionally, web tools create a learning environment that address individual learning styles.  For example, students who are shy, quiet and less confident in the traditional classroom can use the web to demonstrate understanding in a less threatening environment (Higdon & Topaz, 2009).  The learner is given a voice outside of the traditional classroom, responding to classroom prompts in a written format, rather than a verbal context (Higdon & Topaz, 2009).

Web 2.0 personalizes learning by enabling the learner to have greater control of their learning environment. Blogs, wikis and social networking sites allow this control by providing privacy options (Bravo & Young, 2011). These options allow the learner to choose who can view the content and when that content can be viewed; the learner is able to personalize who the audience is.  Control over the learning environment is also evident as the learner can choose how learning occurs.  Traditional learning emphasizes the use of text for learning; however, text alone is not always the preferred choice of communication (McLoughlin & Lee, 2008).   Web 2.0 allows for the incorporation of audio, photo, and video (McLoughlin & Lee, 2008).  These formats are commonly seen on blogs, wikis and social networking sites. By posting media to these sites, students are collecting, posting and archiving materials they find relevant to their learning (Sherer & Shea, 2011). Learners can easily incorporate various medias into their work as this requires little technological skill.   Also, because Web 2.0 tools are so easy to use, information on a myriad of topics is readily available.  For example, blogs cover nearly every genre, including travel, politics, fashion, and cooking (Wolfe, 2010).

Web 2.0 personalizes learning by creating a flexible learning environment for learners; they can choose the time, location, and pace.  The Internet is open 24/7, enabling Web 2.0 tools to foster the growth of learning communities that are accessible outside the traditional classroom (Crane, 2009).  Blogs are an excellent example of this.  Users can publish and comment on information at any time, allowing for reflection and revision.  Feedback to content can be contributed with the same flexibility from peers and teachers.  Wikis also create a flexible, collaborative learning space.  This tool enables learners to work together on an assignment at any time and location, as long as an Internet connection is available (Crane, 2009). This makes project completion much easier as learners create, add and edit content when it is convenient for them (Crane, 2009).  Changes are tracked, allowing users to revisit and revert back to previous work, if necessary.

References:

Wolfe, Katharina. (2010). Bridging the distance: the use of blogs as reflective learning tools for placement students. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(5). 589 – 602. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2010.502292.

Sherer, P., & Shea, T. (2011). Using Online Video to Support Student Learning and Engagement. College Teaching, 59(2), 56-59. doi:10.1080/87567555.2010.511313.

McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10 – 27.

Crane, Beverly E.  (2009). Using Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Bravo, V. J., & Young, M. F. (2011). The Impact of a Collaborative Wikipedia Assignment on Teaching, Learning, and Student Perceptions in a Teacher Education Program. Canadian Journal Of Learning And Technology, 37(3), 1 – 25.

Higdon, J., & Topaz, C. (2009). Blogs and Wikis as Instructional Tools: A Social Software Adaptation of Just-in-Time Teaching. College Teaching, 57(2), 105-110.

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