UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of students’ perceptions of the use of web 2.0 applications in higher education Aucoin, Robert Charles


The study documented in this dissertation explores the views of adult learners in online university programs with respect to their relationships with interactive, web-based technologies in their learning, personal and work environments. These tools are more interactive than previous incarnations of web-based tools and, as a result, have become known collectively as Web 2.0. Simultaneously, students are using Web 2.0 in all aspects of their lives while pundits claim these same students are demanding the use of Web 2.0 in their learning environments. This confluence of trends is placing pressure on universities to include more Web 2.0 applications in learning environments. The challenge is that there is little evidence to support the notion that learners are demanding these tools. Moreover, it is increasingly clear that faculty and learners are not always prepared for the pedagogical and policy implications associated with the use of Web 2.0 in higher education. To address these apparent contradictions, this study was designed to better understand the use of Web 2.0 in the learning process from the learners’ perspective. A mixed methods approach was used with stage one employing an online questionnaire consisting of 30 questions and stage two consisting of a 30-minute follow-up interview. The results of the study revealed that the adult learners studied are not demanding the use of Web 2.0 in their learning environments. Moreover, they show a distinct preference for the use of Web 2.0 in only one aspect of their lives. In other words, if learners use Web 2.0 in their personal lives they will then not be as likely to embrace it in their working or learning lives. Similarly, learners who use Web 2.0 in their learning environments will not be as likely to embrace it in their personal and professional lives. However, learners also recognise the value of Web 2.0 and feel the same pressures as faculty. As a result there is a marked fear of being left behind if the learners do not embrace Web 2.0. And so adult learners come to Web 2.0 often reluctantly.

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