As Malaysia makes a rapid transition from an industrial-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, a new learning paradigm is necessary to reflect and appraise the current educational system. With respect to this shift in the 9MP, the use of web-based learning as a cognitive tool is able to place advantage to this transfer and dissemination of knowledge. Cognitive tools are tools that are used to assist learners to accomplish cognitive tasks (Lajoie & Derry, 1993). Computer-based cognitive tools possess the capacity to transcend beyond the inadequacy to self-regulate learning, such as active learning and organization of knowledge. This literature will channel towards a conceptual discussion to the development of an interactive e-learning community (iELC) to instigate thinking culture among smart school community. This research is addressed in response to the
system to create a thinking culture in an exam-dominated system. iELC is developed to assist the smart school system to achieve this objective. In this discussion, ‘thinking culture’ refers to the process of fostering students to be more proactive, analytical and creative. Through a constructivist approach, iELC is designed to encourage the participation of teachers and students through use of virtual conversation, forum posts and online activities. Smart School
|BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH|
With the guidance of the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3),
Subsequently in the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP), a substantial amount of resources are being invested in education and training. That is, to provide for k-society, the current education system must be reengineered to amplify the knowledge, skills and expertise required to support the Malaysian scenario. As a result, the smart school system, a product of the Seventh Malaysian Plan, will be more extensively developed under the Ninth Malaysian Plan. To allow for further and more rapid development, Malaysian Ministry of Education (MMOE) is anticipating the conversion of all national schools into smart schools by the year 2010. The key factor for the conversion of these schools would be the use of technology to support and enhance the teaching and learning process (Smart School Bulletin, 2003). Given the fact that e-learning has been identified as one of the major E-Thrusts Areas, web-based learning is thus addressed as the ‘link’ to bridge this need. Web-based learning refers to the approach to which the teaching and learning process is conveyed with the assistance of the Internet (Wikipedia, 2006). Thus, web-based learning contradicts the traditional approach of teacher-centered teaching to student-centered learning (Jonassen et al., 2003). Numerous studies have indicated that web-based learning does establish positive impact on student learning. This includes, among some, encouraging students’ inquiry and reflective thinking (Wen et al., 2004), independent and interactive learning (Lê & Lê, 1999) and collaborative learning (Neo, 2005).
Unfortunately, most web instructional developers have a tendency to use the Internet in traditional ways (Dehoney & Reeves, 1999) and often resulting electronic version of a traditional course (Hong et al., 2003). Also, from a research undertaken in a Malaysian university, findings suggest further research to provide more structure and regulation to students engaged in web-based learning environment (Hong, Lai & Holton, 2003). Moreover, as a measure to conform to a larger scale of smart school implementation, there is need to develop a more reflective web-based learning environment, significant to the thrusts of the 9MP. Given these arguments, the authors further propose the development of an interactive e-learning community (iELC). As the name suggests, iELC will comprise a learning community standing on the participation of teachers and students from smart schools across Peninsular Malaysia. However, due to time and financial constraints, attention will be focused only to smart schools of level B technology across Peninsular Malaysia. In this concept of iELC, students and teachers will work mutually towards enriching the teaching and learning process. That is, both teachers and students will actively participate in the teaching and learning process, thus to discover, to reflect and to think critically on the knowledge they acquire. The rationale of iELC is based on the grounds that learning is viewed as a continuous developmental process (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). That is, iELC will provide students the opportunity to learn beyond the parameters of the classroom and the curriculum. Hence, the aim and approach of iELC is parallel to the concept and rationale of the smart schools system and the 9MP in generating appropriate knowledge acquisition, IT competence, higher order thinking skills and problem-solving skills.
With the aid of multimedia technology, these skills are achieved by encouraging self-accessed, self-paced and self-directed learning strategies (Smart School Bulletin, 2003). Self-accessed refers to the ability of a student to access information from various sources, independent of the teacher. Self-paced refers to the ability of a student to learn at his or her own pace without being held back by slower students or having to deal with materials beyond capability. Self-directed, also known as self-regulated, learning strategy allows a student to explore topics of interest without being confined to a rigid curriculum. All in all, iELC is competent to assist the smart school system in accomplishing a “thinking culture in an exam-oriented-dominated culture in the present educational system” (Smart School Bulletin, 2003).
|iELC THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK|
In a traditional learning environment, teaching and learning process are typically directed by didactic content instruction and, seldom assess students’ higher order thinking skills and problem-solving skills (Duch et al., 2001). Although there is an active shift of information between the professor and the students, it is devastating to acknowledge that little learning is actually taking place. Learning is a process in which an individual constructs an individual understanding of the environment through specific experiences and interactions with the surrounding (Savery & Duffy, 1995). Therefore, the pedagogical use of the Internet is best accentuated by clear theoretical standpoint (Dougiamas & Taylor, 2002). Thus, it is imperative to leverage the balance between the use of technology and the dominance of the teaching and learning process. The presence of technology in addressing the teaching and learning process must not overlook the optimal participation of students nor overwhelm the role of teachers. iELC is designed from sound theoretical and practical pedagogy to overcome this lack of active learning. As part of a strategy to transform a traditional learning environment to one that is supported by web-based learning, iELC will focus onto increasing the students’ level of self-regulated learning (SRL). Boekaerts (1997) notes that a number of educators and policy makers advocates formal education is to instill self-regulatory skills in students, which is essential not only to one’s academic success but more importantly to prepare the student after the schooling years. Self-regulated learning is also viewed as predictors of success specifically in the learning process, problem solving and transfer and academic accomplishment in general. That is, self-regulated learning is a key factor to individual achievements and mind development (Smart School Bulletin, 2003; Tan, 2003), academic success (Boekaerts, 1997) and active process of information (
According to Santrock (2001), self-regulated learning refers to strategies used to produce self-generation and self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings and behavior in order to achieve an objective. Self-regulated learning strategies incorporate self-regulatory processes, task strategies and self-motivational beliefs (Cleary & Zimmerman, 2004). Self-regulation processes include goal settings, self-observation and self-evaluation while task strategies include study, time management and organizational strategies, and self-motivational beliefs include self-efficacy and intrinsic interest. In effort to increase students’ level of self-regulated learning, online activities in the iELC will be specifically designed to the principles of the problem-based learning approach. The problem-based learning method refers to a teaching and learning approach that centers on a specific instructional problem; students are encouraged to find solutions and teaching is minimal as teachers shoulder the role of facilitator (Normala Othman & Maimunah Abdul Kadir, 2004).
To put it briefly, the characteristics of problem-based learning can be concluded into the following: (i) the focal point of learning is a problem in which the learners are to choose the best suited solution or alternative (Savin-Baden & Major, 2004), (ii) The problems faced by the students should represent that in the workplace or a real-world context (Boud & Feletti, 1991), (iii) problem-based learning emphasizes more on student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered teaching since the students shoulders the major responsibility of the learning process (Tan, 2003), (iv) activities of problem-based learning may be carried out through small groups that instigates peer learning rather than didactic lectures (Savin-Baden & Major, 2004), (v) Teachers and instructors shifts their role from dominant information feeder to that of a learning facilitator (Tan, 2003). To spearhead the development of the online learning community, iELC will be developed using the Moodle software. The Moodle software was favored in developing the web-based courseware basing on several grounds. Firstly, the Moodle software is open source implying that has no licensing costs, hence it is free and is available to be tailored by the users as necessary to the academic requirements. Moodle is a software package for producing internet-based courses and websites. Secondly, Moodle creates a dynamic learning environment and it’s proven of its capacity to bring about and promote active participation from the students. According to Briton (2006), a member of the Moodle evaluation committee, “Also, student reviews of Moodle are exceedingly positive, and for a University that is student-focused, that is important”. In context of the Malaysian setting, for instance, the use of Moodle as a course management system was successfully attempted in the Faculty of Communication and Information Technology, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris for the teaching of Database Systems, the MPT2013 course subject (Mohamad Hassan et al., 2005). The findings of the research yielded positive responses from the users of the Moodle system. However, it is clear that the development and diffusion of the Moodle software in
To complement the iELC theoretical framework, the architecture of iELC is based on the scaffolding of the constructivism theory of learning. That is, iELC will be designed, developed and implemented to the guidelines of the constructivism theory of learning. This is to ensure optimal learning outcome and, active students’ and teachers’ participation in the teaching and learning process. The constructivist approach does not allow for rote memorization but encourages the construction of meaningful knowledge and understanding (Santrock, 2001). This constructivist approach conforms excellently to the smart school concept and rationale whereby teachers will shoulder the role of facilitators, mediating information between students in a stimulating learning environment (Smart School Bulletin, 2003). “After all, why would we need to understand the student’s point of view if the teacher’s view is the only one that matters?” (Richetti & Sheerin, 1999, p. 58). Jonassen and Reeves (1996) pointed out that to effectively utilize technology as a cognitive tool, a constructivist learning perspective is best since it provides an appropriate learning environment for the students. According to Dougiamas & Taylor (2002), constructivism is the most prevalent theoretical perspectives in online pedagogy. Firstly, constructivism accentuates on the fact that people actively construct new knowledge and understanding as they interact with their environment (Moodle, 2006). Secondly, constructivism accentuates on active and continuous construction of knowledge (Roblyer et al., 1997). Thirdly, constructivism promotes the reinforcement of knowledge acquired through active learning. That is, knowledge is developed and amplified if the knowledge is applied effectively to a wider environment of the individual (Dougiamas & Taylor, 2002).
|USE OF iELC AS A COGNITIVE TOOL TO INSTIGATE THINKING CULTURE|
Complemented by the idea of K-society, thinking culture refers to the activation of the thinking process as the fundamental aspect of any teaching and learning process. That is, with students being the ‘seedlings’ for the development of knowledge society, the ability to initiate, facilitate and manage knowledge is of much importance. Evidently, thinking culture is thus imperative to the development of a knowledge society. However, because the expression ‘thinking culture’ may unintentionally refer to vast domains of knowledge utilization, therefore, this paper will focus from the prism of active cognitive processes. Cognitive process refers to the process of thinking. Basic cognitive process refers to the process of acquiring and storing knowledge whereas higher cognitive process refers to the process of applying the knowledge to use (The Free Dictionary, 2005). For purposes of discussion, the expression ‘cognitive interactivity’ is introduced as an explicit perspective on the activation of cognitive processes during engaging in iELC. From the cognitive perspective, this will encompass both the domains of basic and higher cognitive processes. In context of this discussion, cognitive interactivity will address the utilization and amplification of cognitive processes through students’ interaction with peers within e-learning communities provided by iELC. That is, iELC not only provides an online learning atmosphere but more importantly, acts as a cognitive tool to instigate the students’ ability to manage knowledge. This implies that students, through active participation of iELC, will be able to activate the cognitive process that will scaffold the teaching and learning process.
The process of activating cognitive interactivity is established on the Bloom’s Taxonomy and will comprise (i) acquire and recognize valuable information on the Internet, (ii) associating information from one context to another, (iii) applying these acquired information to solve problems, (iv) Analyzing these information through classification of concepts, (v) integrating the acquired information to generalize and predict conclusions and, (vi) appraisal and discrimination between concepts. Evidently, these perspectives are imperative to the development of thinking culture. iELC is able to provide apt approaches to utilize iELC as a cognitive tool. Effective and active use of these approaches will certainly be able to aid the teaching and learning process. Among the active elements of iELC is the use of forums, resources, chat and glossary. These days, the use of these elements is common in most instructional websites. However, the role of peer collaboration within the online community allows for more effective use of these elements. That is, rather than participation as individuals the presence of community encourages each individual to participate as active member of a community. Hence, replying to forum posts gets just as ‘personal’ as contributing to the development of the online learning community.
In addition, iELC also provides an opportunity for students to interact with other students and teachers through online discussion activities. This implies that students will be able to engage in ‘virtual conversation’ with other students and teachers to exchange ideas or to clarify uncertain facts on learning. This will imply that iELC will be utilized as an asynchronous tool. Furthermore, iELC provides the opportunity for students to actively construct knowledge through continuous classroom and online activities. This is so because the teachers are suggested to follow the guidelines of the problem-based learning approach. To achieve this, teachers will be provided with a brief lesson plan underlining the essence of the problem-based learning approach. Taking into account this constructive elements, iELC is evidently designed to be utilized as a cognitive tool. Consequently, learning becomes personal to the students. With the term ‘personal’ acknowledged, it implies that students can relate to the knowledge they acquire. With iELC designed to the constructivist approach to learning, iELC challenges teacher-centered teaching and advocate student-centered learning environment. In iELC, teachers shoulder the roles of facilitators, mediating knowledge and providing a stimulating environment in which students may actively engage in the learning process.
The role of iELC as cognitive tools also encourages its users to extrapolate its learning experience into classrooms teaching and learning process. The design of the problem-based learning approach in the use of iELC strongly encourages teachers to bring and manipulate discussion threads from forum posts into classroom discussion to create a ‘link’, or rather a learning association between the learning processes after schooling hours to the learning process within schooling hours. Through this approach, there is active exchange of ideas from one member of the community to another, allowing for transfer of knowledge and construction of knowledge. Use of forum posts, for instance, allows for transfer of knowledge through appraisal of prior knowledge. Alternatively, classroom discussion allows for construction of knowledge through assimilation and accommodation of prior knowledge. Mayer (1996) points out that activating prior knowledge brings about more meaningful knowledge. Use of chat rooms and assessment of prior knowledge are conceivable alternatives for supporting the activation of prior knowledge and its integration into existing to schematic framework to create new knowledge (Mayer, 1996). To initiate and continue this cycle of knowledge transfer and knowledge construction, the users must take the effort to apply the abovementioned process of activating cognitive interactivity. This will eventually leads to practicing self-regulated learning strategies. This association between activation of cognitive interactivity and thinking culture is imperative to any teaching and learning process, as well as to the development of knowledge society.
i) To develop a web-based courseware by incorporating the problem-based learning approach using the Moodle software.
ii) To investigate the effectiveness of the web-based courseware to increase the level of self-regulated learning among Form 4 Physics students in Smart Schools of level B technology.
iii) To investigate the role of the web-based courseware in constructing an online learning community.
The main purpose of this study is to implement web-based learning for the teaching and learning of Form 4 Physics KBSM in Smart Schools in Peninsular Malaysia. The implementation of this web-based learning is achieved through the design and development of a web-based courseware to the guidelines of problem-based learning using the Moodle software. The use of this web-based courseware is expected to achieve an increase in the level of achievement, self-regulated learning (SRL) and motivation among students in Smart Schools. The study will also take into account the perception of the participating teachers in the design and development of the web-based courseware.
The study will adopt a quasi experimental design. The Solomon Four-Group design will be employed. Each group will consist of 3 schools giving a total of 12 schools. Two groups are designated to the experimental group and the remaining two groups to the control group. This design is selected due to its greater control over internal and external validity factors.
Sampling and Population
The population refers to Smart Schools of Level B Technology in Peninsular Malaysia. There are a total of 66 schools in Peninsular Malaysia. Samples refer to 12 Smart Schools of Level B Technology randomly selected from the population of 66 schools. Cluster sampling technique will be employed. The total number of samples is approximately 480 subjects.
There will be 2 instruments that will be utilized in the study. The first instrument will be used to determine the effectiveness of the web-based courseware user interface usability from the professional perspective of instructional designers and teachers. The second instrument will be used to determine the pre and post level of self-regulated learning (SRL) and motivation of the subjects.
Data collection will be executed in two phases. In the first phase (pilot study), preliminary data will be collected to determine the reliability of the instruments that will be used in the study. In the second phase, data will be collected for the actual study.
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