Sustaining Teacher Control in a Blog-Based Personal Learning Environment
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AbstractVarious tools and services based on Web 2.0 (mainly blogs, wikis, social networking tools) are increasingly used in formal education to create personal learning environments, providing self-directed learners with more freedom, choice, and control over their learning. In such distributed and personalized learning environments, the traditional role of the teacher is being transformed into that of a facilitator. This change inevitably means a reduced level of control on the part of the teacher. This is evidenced, for example, in difficulties experienced in retaining the necessary levels of control when the learning process moves away from institutionally maintained systems to blog-based personal learning environments. In conducting a course in a formal education setting however, it is still essential for the teacher to retain control over certain learning activities, such as course enrolment, assignments, and the assessment process. A course management plug-in for the WordPress blog platform called LePress was designed and developed as a possible solution to this problem. By using LePress, teachers are able to more easily manage and coordinate courses in a distributed blog-based environment. Teachers are able to regain control over some important aspects of online course management, while maintaining the learners ’ freedom and choice for self-directed learning. This paper documents the results of a survey of a group of 37 teachers who used LePress for at least six months. The study demonstrates that by using LePress, teachers experienced an enhanced level of control over several aspects of the course and this reinforced their perception about the ease of use of the system.