Professor breaks ground with book on e-learning

Harrison Yang with new book.Harrison Yang of SUNY Oswego’s curriculum and instruction faculty recently helped assemble the first comprehensive book on using Web 2.0 in education.

In “Collective Learning and E-Learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking,” Yang and Steve Chi-Yin Yuen of the University of Southern Mississippi explore the various ways interactive platforms including blogs, chat functions, Facebook, YouTube and Second Life have complemented and enhanced learning experiences.

“This book gives a clear picture of the history of the field, the technology now and what the trends are going to be,” Yang said. “Also importantly, it shows many real-world projects, so that those who may be hesitant can see some good examples that worked.”

While preparing to present at last year’s Association for Educational Communications and Technology conference, the two professors started talking about “what’s hot, what’s cool” in the field,” Yang said. The discussion and subsequent searching revealed that “there was no comprehensive book for this area, especially for researchers and practitioners,” he said. “We saw a lot of papers, but no books.”

Publishing imprint Information Science Reference quickly showed interest, and the excited response to Yang and Yuen’s search for authors to submit articles underscored the widespread interest in the book, Yang said.

In addition to sending out the call for chapters over listserves and conference contact lists, they also researched who was active in the field and wrote them. “As the due date approached, our e-mail inboxes were flooded with proposals,” Yang said.

The resulting chapters cover such topics as codes of conduct in social networking communities, strategies for real-time online learning, use of wikis to support collaboration, Web video for e-learning, podcasting as a teaching tool and virtual worlds in an educational context.

Articles came from top researchers in the United States, Spain, China and South Korea. Yang also said having two luminaries in the field—George Siemens of the University of Manitoba, who wrote the forward, and Stephen Downes of Canada’s National Research Council, who penned the first chapter—on board added even more prestige to the project.

The level of response to their call was so great that Yang and Yuen have a second volume, “Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends,” in the pipeline for November release.

Compiling the book turned even longtime practitioner Yang on to new ways to use Web-based collaboration in the classroom. “For me, it’s a learning experience,” he said. “I get lots of ideas from these authors and different angles from their reviews.”

“Collective Learning and E-Learning” should help researchers in the field as well as current practitioners—especially faculty and students, like those in Oswego’s School of Education, who will have a direct impact on how future generations learn, he added.

“I think it’s good for today’s college students, because they know and use many of these tools in their everyday lives, but this could be a guide for how to use them in teaching,” Yang noted.

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(Posted: Oct 01, 2009)