Towards Greater Learner Control: Web Supported Project-Based Learning

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					                            Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol. 21(1)




        Towards Greater Learner Control: Web Supported
                    Project-Based Learning

                                              Cameron Guthrie
                                     Department of Information Management
                                           Toulouse Business School
                                               Toulouse, France
                                           c.guthrie@esc-toulouse.fr

                                                          ABSTRACT

Project-based learning has been suggested as an appropriate pedagogy to prepare students in information systems for the
realities of the business world. Web-based resources have been used to support such pedagogy with mixed results. The paper
argues that the design of web-based learning support to cater to different learning styles may give students more control over
the learning process. A case study approach was used to analyse an undergraduate information systems class in a French
business school. The results show that while students generally believe they attained the class learning objectives, they react
very differently to this pedagogy.

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, PBL, Case Study, Learning Styles, Online Scaffolding.


                   1. INTRODUCTION                                      Instructional delivery can be adapted to different learning
                                                                        approaches and styles which could further enhance PBL
Project-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogy that uses project            learning outcomes (Kurzel and Rath, 2007). Little research
work to drive learning. The project is designed to create a             has reported on the use of web-based learning technologies
need to learn and so more fully engage students in the                  as a support for different learning styles in a PBL pedagogy.
learning process (Railsback, 2002). Students must self-direct                 Our study reports on a class where web-based learning
and self-regulate their learning to successfully complete the           technologies were used to support PBL. Our objective is to
project.                                                                improve our understanding as to how students use these
      PBL holds promise for information systems education.              technologies in a PBL context.
Project work prepares students to work in a professional                      The first section of the paper reviews previous research
environment where information systems are designed and                  on project-based learning and the use of e-learning
developed as projects (Melin, Axelsson and Wedlund, 2009).              technologies to support different learning styles. Several
PBL may also help students develop the necessary skills and             research propositions are developed to guide our research. A
knowledge for successful IT project management (Tynjälä et              case study research approach is then developed to examine
al., 2009).                                                             how online resources are used by students in an information
      In a PBL pedagogy, the teacher’s role changes from that           systems class to support project-based learning. The results
of instructor to facilitator and resource provider. Information         are then presented and discussed. The limitations of the
technologies, such as multimedia presentations (Brush and               paper and future research directions are identified and
Saye, 2008), shared electronic whiteboards and chat rooms               conclusions are drawn.
(Savin-Baden, 2003), and online course materials (Kurzel
and Rath, 2007) are such resources. The use of these                                   2. PREVIOUS RESEARCH
technologies within a PBL course requires students to shift
from a passive role as information receiver to an active role,          In his review of previous project-based learning studies,
making choices as to how best to generate, obtain, manipu-              Thomas (2000) explains that project-based learning has
late, or display information (Means and Olson, 1995). While             emerged from expeditionary learning (Udall and Mednick,
the use of information technologies with PBL instructional              1996), postsecondary models of problem based learning in
strategies have the potential to enhance learning outcomes              the health sciences (Boud and Feletti, 1997), and research in
(Alavi and Leidner, 2001), successful use of technologies               the cognitive sciences. It has been used in a variety of
with PBL has proven problematic (Marx et al., 1997).                    contexts, including history (e.g. Brush and Saye, 2008),
      Web-based learning technologies would appear to be a              literature (e.g. Jacobson and Spiro, 1994), science (e.g.
promising complement to PBL. Online multimedia resources                Simons and Klein, 2007), economics (e.g. Mergendoller,
allow permanent access to information in a variety of forms.            Maxwell and Bellisimo, 2006), information systems (e.g.




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                            Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol. 21(1)

Yip and Ghafarian, 2000), and accounting (e.g. Milne and                 learning is grounded in experience. It “is the process
McConnell, 2001).                                                        whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of
      Project-based learning can be defined as a course                  experience. Knowledge results from the combination
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Project-based learning has been suggested as an appropriate pedagogy to prepare students in information systems for the realities of the business world. Web-based resources have been used to support such pedagogy with mixed results. The paper argues that the design of web-based learning support to cater to different learning styles may give students more control over the learning process. A case study approach was used to analyse an undergraduate information systems class in a French business school. The results show that while students generally believe they attained the class learning objectives, they react very differently to this pedagogy. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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