Building a profile of the young web-based learner

Year: 2004

Author: Young, Kirsty

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Web is a culturally valued cognitive tool with the potential to transform the learner in ways not yet recognised. Whilst the Web has proved to have significant impact on forms of communication and methods of distributing and accessing information, less is understood of how its unique characteristics may impact upon individuals in terms of their approach to learning and the skills and attributes required to successfully participate in a Web-based environment.

In order to gain such insight I am employing an integrated theoretical approach which relies on theories of Situated Cognition, Distributed Cognition and Activity Theory. This integrated approach facilitated the development of a research design which permitted analysis of the complex environment by examining multiple elements - society, tool, activity and individual - thus permitting an in-depth exploration of these phenomena.

During this study I have observed, listened to and spoken with young students, both during and after engagement in authentic activities on the Web. Initial analysis of these data has resulted in a tentative profile of the Web-based learner in terms of the 'roles' which they assume in this environment, coupled with learner characteristics which assist them in the environment. This paper will explore the research methods employed and the subsequent Web-based learner profile which has emerged.