With background in the proliferation of Information- and Communication Technologies(ICTs) in educational institutions, there is a growing interest in deploying ICT that complies with specifications and standards for learning technologies in these institutions. A key to obtaining the benefits of cost-efficiency and quality that motivate this interest is reuse of digital learning resources. Despite the significant efforts being made in design and deployment of learning technology standards facilitating the reuse of learning resources, the phenomenon of reuse is understudied.
Central standardization initiatives originate in the requirements for training in large corporations and the US military. My research is concerned with learning resource reuse in educational institutions, with a particular interest in pedagogical approaches emphasizing the social aspects of learning. The central aim of my research is to develop a conception of reuse that facilitates systematic analysis of learning resource reuse in ICT-mediated collaborative learning environments. This aim locates my research at the intersection between learning technology standardization and the research area of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL).
The theoretical basis for my research is sociocultural perspectives on human learning and development. This perspective contends that the process of learning is essentially a social process, situated in cultural and historical contexts. The sociocultural understanding of technological agency, that human actions are mediated by artifacts, has fundamentally shaped my understanding of learning resource reuse. I have used the more specific approach of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory as my analytical framework,which implies that I have studied the students, teachers, and technology designers’ engagement with learning resources as activity.
The empirical basis for the research is formed by three interpretive case studies. Two of the case studies were carried out on an introductory course on object-oriented programming at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, during two consecutive semesters. The third case study was conducted on the development of a framework for technology-enhanced inquiry learning at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
The most important contribution of my research is that it brings the issue of how learning resources are reused in educational institutions into the foreground. The intermediate conv cept of reuse developed in this thesis informs the two research areas CSCL and learning technology standardization. It serves as a mechanism for discussing the issue of scalability of CSCL systems, and provides empirically informed perspectives on reuse to the learning technology standardization community.
I argue that standardization will become more relevant for CSCL research as experimental CSCL systems are brought into educational institutions and help shape the everyday practice in these institutions. Learning technology standards represent an opportunity for the CSCL research community to reify findings on productive collaborative interactions, and to implement sustainable CSCL systems in educational institutions.
The conception of reuse can be used in deliberations on standards deployment in educational institutions. It can help guide decisions on which learning resources to design according to standards, and the findings on how the specifications SCORM and IMS Learning Design accommodate collaborative learning approaches can assist decision-makers in choosing appropriate mechanisms for facilitating reuse of learning resources. For the design of learning technology standards, the conception of reuse offers an opportunity to think about how well the standards reflect reuse practice. The findings on how learning resources are reused can also be used for redesigning standards with respect to reducing complexity.
In addition to the findings on reuse, my empirical research on social interactions in distributed CSCL settings has yielded new insights on the communicative conditions constituted by CSCL environments in the problem domain of university-level introductory objectoriented programming. My research pays particular attention to how the mediating ICTs shape these interactions, as well as taking other aspects of the learning situations into account.