Harvesting Knowledge: The Role of the Internet in Helping Students to Develop Independent Research Skills - A Case Study

Dr Julia Gaimster (j.gaimster@fashion.arts.ac.uk)
London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes Street, London, W1G OBJ
Dr David Gray (d.e.gray@surrey.ac.uk)
University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK


The exponential growth of the web, now the depository of the largest database of information known to humankind, is now posing the potential for new forms of learning (harvested knowledge) through research and independent inquiry.

This paper reports on a case study in which a group of students were actively taught web searching and research skills. The results show not only the potential of the web for independent learning, but also some of the current problems associated with using the medium in this way. The paper points to the future of e-learning and the use of computer mediated communication in conjunction with knowledge management tools and systems.

The study found that whilst there were many advantages to the Internet as a tool for independent research in this field there were also many barriers that prevented the students from using it effectively. These barriers included a lack of access to IT, a lack of knowledge about the Internet and the subject domain, a lack of experience in information seeking strategies and a lack of confidence in using computers and dealing with professionals in the outside world. The attitudes of the learners and the professionals with whom they were trying to communicate were also a factor in whether or not they were successful in their task.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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