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How authentic should a learning context be? Using real and simulated profiles in a classroom intervention to improve safety on social network sites

Ellen Vanderhoven (UGent) , Tammy Schellens (UGent) and Martin Valcke (UGent)
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Abstract
With the rise of social network sites (SNSs), there is an increasing need for safety education within the current cyber society. To this end, a variety of educational materials have been developed to prepare children to be vigilant when interacting on such sites. However, little is known about the critical design aspects necessary to make these materials effective. In this study, we build on the results of two previous studies, in which we found that general instructional principles drawn from constructivism, such as collaborative learning, are not always appropriate to teach children how to behave safely online. This study therefore focuses on the importance of authentic learning and active learning as critical design features. A quasi-experimental study was conducted in secondary schools in order to compare the impact of two classroom interventions about the risks on SNSs. As part of the intervention, students were presented scaffolds towards different risks related to an SNS-profile through a series of questions. In the control condition, these questions concerned a simulated SNS-profile on paper containing signs of many risks. In the experimental condition, students had to answer the same questions about their own SNS-profile on a computer. It was hypothesized that the simulated profile would not be experienced as realistic, and that students would have difficulties identifying with it. On the other hand, teenagers were expected to be able to recognize more risks on the simulated ‘worst-case scenario’ profile than on their own profile, which would facilitate the scaffolding process in the control condition. The results of the study mostly confirmed these hypotheses. Furthermore, the question arose as to whether the intervention based on the student’s own rea listic profile was educationally more valuable than the intervention based on the simulated profile, but no such added value was found. On the contrary, the scaffolding questions about the simulated profile were found to be more effective in teaching the teenagers about the different categories of risks that were tackled. Based on these findings, the importance of an authentic setting was put into perspective. Within the context of a classroom intervention to promote safety on SNSs, the exercise based on the simulated SNS-profile is put forward as the more effective teaching strategy.
Keywords
Social Network Site, Unsafe Internet Use, Authentic Learning, Secondary Education, Scaffolding

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MLA
Vanderhoven, Ellen, Tammy Schellens, and Martin Valcke. “How Authentic Should a Learning Context Be? Using Real and Simulated Profiles in a Classroom Intervention to Improve Safety on Social Network Sites.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CYBER SOCIETY AND EDUCATION 8.1 (2015): 1–18. Print.
APA
Vanderhoven, E., Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2015). How authentic should a learning context be? Using real and simulated profiles in a classroom intervention to improve safety on social network sites. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CYBER SOCIETY AND EDUCATION, 8(1), 1–18.
Chicago author-date
Vanderhoven, Ellen, Tammy Schellens, and Martin Valcke. 2015. “How Authentic Should a Learning Context Be? Using Real and Simulated Profiles in a Classroom Intervention to Improve Safety on Social Network Sites.” International Journal of Cyber Society and Education 8 (1): 1–18.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Vanderhoven, Ellen, Tammy Schellens, and Martin Valcke. 2015. “How Authentic Should a Learning Context Be? Using Real and Simulated Profiles in a Classroom Intervention to Improve Safety on Social Network Sites.” International Journal of Cyber Society and Education 8 (1): 1–18.
Vancouver
1.
Vanderhoven E, Schellens T, Valcke M. How authentic should a learning context be? Using real and simulated profiles in a classroom intervention to improve safety on social network sites. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CYBER SOCIETY AND EDUCATION. 2015;8(1):1–18.
IEEE
[1]
E. Vanderhoven, T. Schellens, and M. Valcke, “How authentic should a learning context be? Using real and simulated profiles in a classroom intervention to improve safety on social network sites,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CYBER SOCIETY AND EDUCATION, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1–18, 2015.
@article{5946254,
  abstract     = {{With the rise of social network sites (SNSs), there is an increasing need for safety education within the current cyber society. To this end, a variety of educational materials have  been  developed  to  prepare  children  to  be  vigilant  when  interacting  on  such  sites. However,  little  is  known  about  the  critical  design  aspects  necessary  to  make  these materials effective. In this study, we build on the results of two previous studies, in which we  found  that  general  instructional  principles  drawn  from  constructivism,  such  as collaborative learning, are not always appropriate to teach children how to behave safely online. This study therefore focuses on the importance of authentic learning and active learning  as  critical  design  features.  A  quasi-experimental  study  was  conducted  in secondary schools in order to compare the impact of two classroom interventions about the risks on SNSs. As part of the intervention, students were presented scaffolds towards different  risks  related  to  an  SNS-profile  through  a  series  of  questions.  In  the  control condition, these questions concerned a simulated SNS-profile on paper containing signs of many risks. In the experimental condition, students had to answer the same questions about their own SNS-profile on a computer. It was hypothesized that the simulated profile would  not  be  experienced  as  realistic,  and  that  students  would  have  difficulties identifying with it. On the other hand, teenagers were expected to be able to recognize more risks on the simulated ‘worst-case scenario’ profile than on their own profile, which would facilitate the scaffolding process in the control condition. The results of the study mostly  confirmed  these  hypotheses.  Furthermore,  the  question  arose  as  to  whether  the intervention based on the student’s own rea listic profile was educationally more valuable than the intervention based on the simulated profile, but no such added value was found. On the contrary, the scaffolding questions about the simulated profile were found to be more effective in teaching the teenagers about the different categories of risks that were tackled.  Based  on  these  findings,  the  importance  of  an authentic  setting  was  put  into perspective. Within the context of a classroom intervention to promote safety on SNSs, the  exercise  based  on  the  simulated  SNS-profile  is  put  forward  as  the  more  effective teaching strategy.}},
  author       = {{Vanderhoven, Ellen and Schellens, Tammy and Valcke, Martin}},
  issn         = {{1995-6649}},
  journal      = {{INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CYBER SOCIETY AND EDUCATION}},
  keywords     = {{Social Network Site,Unsafe Internet Use,Authentic Learning,Secondary Education,Scaffolding}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{1--18}},
  title        = {{How authentic should a learning context be? Using real and simulated profiles in a classroom intervention to improve safety on social network sites}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.7903/ijcse.1200}},
  volume       = {{8}},
  year         = {{2015}},
}

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