By Daniela & Lourdes

Web-Based Learning Community
A Web-Based Learning community has 3 dimensions (Nachmias et al., 2000):
  • community (social dimension)
  • the appropriate environment (technological dimension)
  • pedagogical aspects (educational dimension)
The outcomes in the participants’ learning process depend on how the WBL site is devised and maintained; what type of interaction is allowed. Participants of a WBL community can relate to the web based environment in 4 ways (Mioduser et al, 2000). :
  • Manipulating information – Generating, processing, storing, retrieving and transmitting information. Participants can both contribute and gain from databases, online museums and online libraries.
  • Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) – Asynchronous or synchronous communication between students, teachers and experts can be mediated through web conferencing, emails and Internet Relay Chats.
  • Being creative - Many user friendly tools hosted online are free for the user. They make way for students to be creative and then publish their works online without any need for technical support.
  • Accessing resources – Resources can either be embedded in the site or via hyperlinks.
  • Feedback – Feedback can either be summative or formative.
The amount of participant activity in a WBL environment can vary according to the requirements of the course and the pedagogy applied by the tutor.
Low levels of participant activity
Static pages – This involves having sites which only include printed course material.
Hyperlinks – A WBL site may contain links to other sites. These sites can either be totally helpful but they may also contain irrelevant material. By simply putting links to other sites does not render the WBL as learner centric. Hence, it does not maximise on the potential of WBL environments.
Quiz-like activities – Having multiple choice questions where the results are not checked by a human but by the computer does not involve interaction between participants.

Medium Levels of Participant Activity
Assignment Uploads & Summative/Formative Feedback – By uploading an assignment which the student worked individually and then having the tutor providing a formative feedback can be described, in a way, as participant activity. In such a case, interactivity is enhanced if other students can also view, comment, and ask questions to the tutor regarding each other’s uploaded assignments.
Polls: The tutor can use polls either as a feed-forward technique to ameliorate the course structure. For example, asking the students whether a forum or a video conference is preferred or else a tool used to introduce a discussion topic. First, the question is communicated and then the discussion that follows is based upon the students’ replies.
High Levels of Participant Activity
E-Learning 2.0 – Social networking increases participant activity considerably. This can be done by using discussion boards, blogs or forums.
Collaborative Projects – Students can be given the opportunity to collaborate online on particular projects which can be agreed upon and worked out by different members of the community, asynchronously.
References
Mioduser, D., Nachmias, R., Lahav, O., Oren, A. (2000). Web-Based Learning Environments: Current Pedagogical and Technological State. Journal of Research on Computing in Education.
McKimm, J., Jollie, C., Cantillon, P. (2003). Web based learning. ABC of Teaching and Learning.
Sabri, K., Baldwyn, L. (2003). Web-based learning interaction and learning styles. British Journal of Educational Technology.
Nachmias, R., Mioduser, D., Lahav, O., Oren, A. (2000). Learnet-A Model for Virtual Learning Communities in the World Wide Web. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications.