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EDUC 893: Social & Organizational Aspects of Learning Technology Design

Course Description

"This course looks at the design of learning technologies from a socio-cultural perspective. It is based on the idea that the ultimate success of today's learning technologies depend not only on how "good" the products are with respect to traditional criteria of engineering, content coverage, and cognitive engagement, but on how the technologies are taken up and used within the broader context of an organization or social group. This refers both to challenges of technology adoption, but also to the fact that the learning enabled by the technologies occurs in a social context. Understanding these issues is especially important given the current explosion of "Web 2.0" applications such as online communities, wikis, and multi-player games which emphasize online sharing and collaboration over the centralized distribution of information.

"This raises several important questions for learning technology designers and scholars:

  1. What makes a particular technology for teaching, learning, or knowledge development "fit" a social or organizational context–such as a workplace, school, or university?
  2. How can we practically come to understand such contexts in ways that will help us design effective learning technologies?
  3. What role do "social" elements play in learning and how can we design learning environments that promote desired kinds of interactions?

"We will explore these questions through readings, class discussion and hands-on projects. Students will collect real-world data to analyze a context for learning and use design software to create a prototype for a social learning website." ~Alyssa Wise

In-Class Web Design Project

Using the content provided, build a web site of at least 4 pages (home page plus 3 internal pages), using a single linked style sheet.

Horoscopes 'R Us

Activity Theory Project

"Activity Theory is a tool for understanding the world from a socio-cultural perspective. One of your two projects in this course will be to conduct an Activity Theory Analysis of an activity within an organization. You will work in a team to collect and analyze real data and gain insight into the dynamics of the activity. Start thinking as soon as possible about ideas for interesting activities/organizations that you can get access to investigate (note that special restrictions apply when children or schools are involved). Evaluation is based on a collective written report and self/peer evaluations of contributions made."

Note: this project cannot be posted here, for reasons of confidentiality - permission was not asked for or provided by the research subjects.

Social Learning Web Design Project

"Your second project for the course will be the creation of a prototype of a social learning website. We will base our designs on Wenger's Community of Practice Theory (CoP) – an idea often referred to when creating social learning sites and web applications. This individual project will give you the opportunity to combine the theoretical, practical and technological aspects of the class. Equally important to the site prototype you create is the rationale for why you made the design choices you did. Evaluation is based on coherence, completeness and justification of the design to meet its stated purpose. Your use of Dreamweaver will be needed to realize the vision of you design, however sites will not be evaluated for their technical sophistication."

CoP Web Site: Lions Gate Quilters' Guild
Design Rationale (.pdf)

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