As Brown and Adler (2008) emphasize, a highly competitive innovative company boasts a workforce who “acquire new knowledge and skills on an almost continuous basis” (career-mobile life-long learners); however, hardly anyone already pursuing a career has ample opportunity to engage in full-time formal education, and on-line tools that promote a learner’s active participation and engagement in the learning process are increasingly viewed by many as effective complements, supplements or adequate (or even superior) substitutes for the conventional face-to-face instruction (Redecker et al, 2009).
More and more businesses come to realize that professional development and training is pivotal to organizational success; however, “training budgets continue to decrease, and doing ‘more with less’ is a repeated utterance throughout the [ID] profession. No matter the study, training budgets have been and continue to reduce or run flat” (Pontefract, 2011, para.4). Considering the budget constraints, one of the best possible ID solutions to create high-quality training that meets the needs of the 21-century learner and is grounded in learner-centered, “contribution-oriented pedagogy” (Beldarrain, 2006) is to resort to new Web2.0 technologies.
Web 2.0 tools, which afford a user an opportunity not just to access information but to actively engage in generating and distributing content, have contributed to a lot of innovations in pedagogy and instruction. By focusing on knowledge constructed through social interactions rather than acquired from or delivered by the instructor (Brown & Adler, 2008; Redecker, 2009; Redecker et al, 2009; Simonson et al, 2012), Web 2.0 technologies have transformed learning paradigms (Redecker et al, 2009) and shifted educational agendas from the traditional supply-push instruction issues to the development of demand-pull approaches to learning and instruction (Brown & Adler, 2008) which put the learner at the center by changing teacher and student roles (Simonson et al, 2012) and “better accommodating the interests and needs of students within educational systems”, emphasizing “the importance of making ‘learner voice’ heard”, enabling “peer-to-peer learning” and “a greater personalization of education” (Redecker, 2009, pp.40-41; also in Redecker et al, 2009), and stressing “learning to learn”, which “requires individuals to learn autonomously and with self-discipline, organising [sic] their own learning, evaluating and reflecting upon their progress and seeking advice, information and support when appropriate” (Redecker et al, 2009, p. 25), which are the skills and learning strategies prerequisite for successful life-long learning.
Consider the following scenario:
A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.
It is obvious that the scenario calls for an asynchronous distance learning approach which would allow the trainees to access the learning materials and provide feedback while physically situated in different locations and different time zones. Such a Web2.0 tool as a wiki could solve the issue of geographical and time differences, and allow the ID creating the training workshop to meet the requirements set by the client organization.
A wiki is one of the most useful types of asynchronous groupware to advance social learning, which is based on constructivism and collaboration (Beldarrain, 2006). Wikis are widely used at all levels of instruction to produce dynamic co-creative learning environments. Practical applications of wikis are numerous: from team project development, collecting/ sharing information (text, images, video, audio), and discussions to creating digital portfolios (Richardson, 2010).
From a purely educational perspective, wikis serve to “enhance reflection as well as analytical, critical and creative thinking by encouraging students to engage with positions divergent from their own”, thus improving peer assessment, teamwork, communication, general social and civic skills; as well as to “promote more engaged learning, increasing student motivation and participation” by giving the wiki participants “a sense of responsibility, authorship and ownership” and fostering “deeper and more meaningful interactions” (Redecker, 2009, p.33; also in Redecker et al. 2009).
The wiki as a learning tool rests on the Engagement Theory, according to which, collaborative efforts and project-based learning “lead to engagement and authentic learning” (Beldarrain, 2006, p.148).
Wikis have already proven to be effective learning tools, and some major corporations, for example, IBM, fully rely on wikis for employee training (Ruffolo, 2008).
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153
Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1), 16–32.
Pontefract, D. (2011). Learning With and From Others: Restructuring Budgets for Social Learning. Retrieved from http://www.danpontefract.com/learning-with-and-from-others-restructuring-budgets-for-social-learning/
Redecker, C. (2009). Review of Learning 2.0 practices: Study on the impact of Web 2.0 innovations on education and training in Europe. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. Luxembourg: European Commission & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved from https://observatorio.iti.upv.es/media/managed_files/2009/03/12/JRC49108_.pdf
Redecker, C., Ala-Mutka, K., Bacigalupo, M., Ferrari, A., & Punit, Y. (2009). Learning 2.0: The impact of Web 2.0 innovations on education and training in Europe: Final report. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. Luxembourg: European Commission & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55629.pdf
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. USA: Corwin, SAGE.
Ruffolo, R. (2008). IBM uses wiki approach to corporate training. Retrieved from http://www.itworldcanada.com/article/ibm-uses-wiki-approach-to-corporate-training/4494
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.