Easy, collaborative and engaging

Abstract: Background: Cloud computing has recently received interest in information systems research and practice as a new way to organise information with the help of an increasingly ubiquitous computer infrastructure. However, the use of cloud computing in higher education institutions and business schools, as well as its potential to create novel learning environments remains an underresearched topic.

Purpose: To address the research gap, this paper investigates how the capabilities of cloud computing have fostered collaborative learning processes of students in the design of management classrooms. The research project has taken place in a three-year period and has covered five post-graduate knowledge management classes, which have been situated in the context of business education.

Research design and sources of evidence: I have used an illustrative case study of five knowledge management classes as research design to explore and describe interconnections between methods of social constructionism and cloud computing properties which enhance collaborative learning experiences of students in the classroom. To develop a theoretical background for the case study, I first review literature on constructivist and experiential learning, new management profiles, and information systems. In the empirical part of the case study, I have observed the experimental blending of constructivist learning methods and the cloud computing platform Google Apps for Education in three post-graduate classes and two Executive Master of Business Administration classes on the topic of knowledge management. For the data collection, I have focused on collaboration processes to understand how students have used various cloud computing tools to work together, and how their usage has affected interaction and reflection in the observed courses.

Results: Findings show that collaborative properties of cloud computing, when they are undergirded by methods of social constructionism, influence learning factors on cognitive, emotional, spatial and group levels and lead to substantial changes in teacher/student roles and behaviours. The ease-of-use, playfulness and immediacy of cloud platforms creates collaborative learning spaces and has the potential to foster lateral thinking and problem solving of students in the classroom.

Conclusions and contribution: By illuminating mutual interrelations between learning factors, constructivist principles and cloud computing properties, the paper enriches the literature on the innovative use of information system technologies in universities and business schools. The paper provides, in addition, practice-oriented insights for pedagogical and methodological choices that undergird the capabilities of cloud platforms to foster collaborative learning processes of students in higher education institutions.

Dirk Schneckenberg: Easy, collaborative and engaging – the use of cloud computing in the design of management classrooms. Educational Research, Volume 56, Issue 4, 2014: 412-435.

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Related conference paper:

  • Schneckenberg, D. (2011). Easy, Collaborative and Engaging – How Google Apps Fosters Constructivist Learning in a Knowledge Management Class. In Orr, K. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference of the Organisational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities Communities, 12-14 April 2011, Hull University Business School. OCKL: 2011 Full text from publisher » (draft version)

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