Edulearn Student

Abstract : Creating and Sharing Content Through Open Virtual Platforms: The Student Perspective

This an abstract produced by Dr Mark Gatenby, Dr Stefan Cantore, Dr Lisa Harris, Stefanos Marangos, Tom Rowledge and I for the Edulearn ’16 Conference. We have had the abstract accepted and are working to create the paper now.


There has been a proliferation of accessible and interactive digital content in recent decades. Alongside this, higher education (HE) institutions have made increasing use of closed virtual learning environments (VLEs). These trends have led to a gap between the quantity and the richness of digital content available for students on one side, and the way they are embedded and formally used within HE institutions on the other. Here we want to identify the growing opportunities for ‘Student Created Learning’ (SCL), a concept drawing on pedagogical principles of Constructionism (Kafai and Resnick, 1996) and recent trends in open learner-generated content (Pérez-Mateo et al. 2011), which offer a wide range of potential applications in HE. SCL describes how students can independently lead their own learning journey while co-creating the content which shapes their overall learning environment. Within SCL, open digital content is likely to have a fundamental role in constituting the learning environment where students-as-creators operate in interactive and immersive digital networks; a transformation that van Dijck and Poell (2015) have recently called the ‘platform society’.

At the University of Southampton, SCL is being used as part of a two year project ‘Students as Creators and Change Agents’ which makes use of many strands of e-learning and digital media to reinvent the HE curriculum in Business, Chemistry, Web Science, and Digital Marketing. In this paper the co-design students discuss what has been achieved in the first phase of the project and present the feedback received from participants. Based on these results, the conclusion will outline the steps planned for the next stage of the project.

We envisage SCL having two distinct roles in our project. Firstly, students aim to utilise Social Media and other virtual platforms to increase engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Furthermore, the group aims to incorporate digital content mediated through virtual platforms as the major driving force behind the learning, as opposed to technology being used as a supplement. To do this, students are working together to co-design, co-create and publicise digital “modlets” (mini-module) to provide entry-level undergraduate students with skills that the students themselves deem essential to early success in the programme. We anticipate the modlet model being transferable to many subjects and modes of module delivery in HE.

Several future benefits of using SCL are identified. Most notably, we show how students can have an active role in shaping the curriculum and through this process are engaged in the potential of constructing new learner roles: co-producing a programme by students, for students. When considering potential longer-term benefits, the aim of the project is to use digital media as the main mechanism to generate student participation and engagement at scale – at least two thirds of enrolled students taking an active part in not only co-designing their own learning, but helping to facilitate the learning process and the wider learning community of their peers

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