and Communication
for Active Learning

Hypermedia som ett pedagogiskt hjälpmedel, Stockholms universitets kvalitetskonferens, oktober 1996

Seminar by Paul Johannesson and Kristiina Kalliomaa


An important goal in any education is to encourage the students to actively search for knowledge through self studies. Self studies provide many advantages in comparison to traditional forms of teaching. In particular, the students become more actively in volved in their studies, which means that they gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Furthermore, self studies make it possible for the students to choose the time and location for their studies. In spite of these advantages of self studies, almost all of the education at Swedish Universities is still given in the traditional form with students spending much of their time attending lectures in large groups. One reason for this state of affairs is that self studies put a heavy burden on the individual student, who has to work with limited contact and support from teachers and other students. It is our belief that this problem can be solved by adequate pedagogy that utilizes modern information techn ology (IT).


The goal of the project is to investigate how modern IT, in particular hypermedia and electronic communication, can be used to support active learning and self studies.

Relevance for Higher Education in Sweden>

The project will contribute to the knowledge of how IT could be used for self studies. Improved forms of self studies are important in most traditional higher education, but they are especially relevant in distance education where teachers and students ar e separated in time and space. It can be envisaged that distance education will become more common in the future as new groups of students require access to higher education, e.g., part-time working students and students living outside the university regi ons. Distance education will also become increasingly important on an international level.


The project will develop interactive, hypertext based study material based on two textbooks:

- M. Boman, J. Bubenko, P. Johannesson, and B. Wangler: Conceptual Modelling (to be published by Prentice-Hall in 1996)

- M. Boman and J. Karlgren: Formella språk och abstrakta maskiner (to be published by Studentlitteratur in 1996)

The project will consist of the following three parts:

1. Design and implementation of hypertext structures and interactive IT-tools Parts of the text in the textbooks and additional material will be organized in a hypertext structure. This structure will be complemented with self study material, including quizzes. The self study material will provide interactive support and automatic correction, which will give the students fast and adequate feed-back on their work. Internet, in particular the Web, will be used for the implementation. An advantage of the WWW-service is that it provides a hypertext tool as well as communication, which enables students to choose the time and location of their studies.

2. Methodology for utilizing IT and self studies in traditional courses and distance education In order to make IT-based tools effective in a course, it does not suffice only to make them accessible to the students. It is required to integrate the use of the tools in the course so that they become a natural part of the studies, which entails that t raditional forms of teaching in the classroom have to be adapted. The total amount of lecturing from the cathedra should be reduced, and instead the students should spend more of their time on self studies, including assignments and case studies. The teac hers should support the students in their course work by engaging in dialogues and constructive criticism. The communication between students and teachers will to a large extent take place in small groups with, say, two to four students at a time. A part of the communication may also be computer mediated, for example electronic mail and Newsgroups; this form is particularly appropriate when students need fast responses on simple questions. The project will develop a methodology for combining different for ms of teaching, where the basic components are traditional class-room teaching, interactive IT-tools, computer mediated communication, and dialogues in small groups. We believe that an important part of this methodology is to use examination to encourage the students to work actively and continuously with larger problems and case studies during the entire course.

3. Empirical Work The IT-tools developed in the project will be used in several courses at DSV, traditional courses as well as distance education courses. Approximately 500 students will participate in these courses during the academic years 96/97 and 97/98.

Most of the work on the first two parts of the project will be carried out in the academic year 96/97. The IT-tools will be further developed also in 97/98. Some empirical work (part 3) will be initiated in 96/97, but the bulk of this work will take place in 97/98.

Evaluation and Documentation

The evaluation of the project will focus on two aspects. First, we will evaluate the studentsÕ subjective experiences of the new teaching forms. We will do this through long (one hour) interviews with a selected number of students and through questionnair es to all students. Secondly, we will evaluate the quality of the knowledge acquired by the students by comparing their results with those obtained by students in similar courses without IT-based tool support. Finally, we will collect objective facts such as through-put, average study time, teacher costs, etc. The results of the project will be documented in the Web pages that constitute the IT-tools. Furthermore, we will produce a report describing the methodology for integrating IT-tools in the education (part 2 under Approach). This report will also include our experiences based on the evaluation.

The project is supported by Grundutbildningsrådet at Högskoleverket. For further information about the project, see URL http://www.dsv.su.se/~pajo/GRUB

Paul Johannesson, pajo@dsv.su.se
Last update May 13, 1997.