Collaborating to know with Web 2.0 tools

In August 2011, Dorothy Faulkner travelled to the EARLI conference in Exeter to present a paper co-authored with me, Denise Whitelock and Kieron Sheehy.

Ferguson, R., Faulkner, D., Whitelock, D., & Sheehy, K. (2011). Knowing how to collaborate: Collaborating to know with Web 2.0 tools. Paper presented at the EARLI  2011 conference, Exeter, UK.


This paper reports an exploratory study that draws on sociocultural accounts of learning to frame an investigation of 10 – 11 year-olds’ experience of using of Web 2.0 tools to support informal, self-directed learning activities at home and out-of school contexts. Focus group interviews and visual elicitation methods were used to support informed dialogues with 10-11 year-olds about their use the Internet and Web 2.0 applications. Fourteen children from a UK primary school’s robotics and with computer clubs participated in the study. Children were interviewed in small groups of three or four and were also invited to produce visual representations of the ICT hardware, software and Internet applications they used at home. Preliminary analyses of the drawings and interview transcripts revealed that these participants routinely engage in both face-to-face and on-line learning activities with friends and that they use a variety of instant messaging and mobile technologies to share and exchange knowledge and expertise about gaming and the Internet, the usefulness of different search engines and information and retail sites. The data also reveal that although these children enjoy an extended, global network of family and friends, the learning potential afforded by Web 2.0 tools is hampered by inefficient information search and knowledge-sharing strategies. The paper will draw on the theoretical and analytical framework of activity theory to explain these findings.

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