Co-construction of knowledge in tertiary online settings: an ecology of resources perspective

Tertiary education has seen a shift toward pedagogies that make use of social interaction. As part of the shift, teachers have considered re-framing their role in the teaching process, and giving more attention to ways in which knowledge construction amongst students can be supported. While many online technologies are well positioned to support interactivity between students, the use of these tools does not necessarily ensure that the social interaction is of a type that guarantees learning will take place. This paper employs an "ecology of resources" perspective (Luckin 10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.018, 2008) to explore the experiences of teachers and selected students from three tertiary-level contexts as they engaged with interactive learning tasks mediated by asynchronous online technologies. The data presented in the study were generated primarily from accounts and semi-structured interviews, and presented teachers' beliefs about how the learners could operate as knowledge resources for each other, while they themselves were somewhat 'epistemically distant'. In contrast, the data suggest that the experiences of students and tutors were vastly different. The students represented themselves and others as inadequate resources, perceiving that the expertise to construct knowledge was not present in the student group. These observations highlight the importance of building resource-rich learning environments, enabling access to expert performances through blended settings, and nurturing a perception of capability between students.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Westberry, N., & Franken, M. (2013). Co-construction of knowledge in tertiary online settings: an ecology of resources perspective. Instructional Science, 41(1), 147-164.