1.5 Literature Review

This thesis reviews and draws from a variety of research and articles from media and education specialists and cooperatives. Dr. Doug Belshaws Eight Essential Elements (Belshaw, 2011), Common Sense Media‘s digital literacy and citizenship strands (Grayson, 2011), Scratch’s Computational Thinking connections (Brennan, Chung, & Hawson, 2011), Michelle Levesque’s Web Literacy work (Levesque, 2012) and Jeanette Wing’s Computational Thinking characteristics (Wing, 2006) serve as the basis for the definition of web literacies in this thesis. The review of similarities and differences in these works allows for the development of overarching academic definitions of various categories and degrees of “Web Literacies” and categorization of specific skills, which fall into those literacies.

Marotzki and Jörissen write about the transformation of perceived identity. With the splitting of identity into four distinct identities since the advent of the World Wide Web, humans are becoming more polymorphic. Two independent identities exist in the online world. Two independent identities exist in the offline world. From a theoretical perspective, the difference between the online and offline is blurred, at best. The dynamic of new media has led to the understanding of the relativity of information as a common skill. Internet users are critical of the information they receive, leading to a more flexible usage of information (Marotzki & Jörissen, 2005). This theoretical splitting of identities was key in identifying and explaining the multifaceted educational approach this thesis proposes.

Educational theories from the eighteenth century Reform Pedagogic and Progressive Education movements and Connected Learning Principles (Ito and Gutiérrez, 2012) serve as support for the use of “Learning by Making”, an educational theory explained later in this document. The ideas of Georg Kerschensteiner and John Dewey and the ways in which the Connected Learning Principles compare to these nineteenth century ideas provide a solid base for “Learning by Making” as a practically applicable theory in education.

Curtiss Murphy examined effective training games in the context of a study for the United States Navy and subsequently wrote “Why Games Work and the Science of Learning” (Murphy, 2011). In this article, Murphy explored Edward Thorndike‘s basic laws of learning. The work summarizes and supports the usage and effects of game mechanics used in learning. In combination with information from one the most popular gamification wikis (Gamification.org, 2011), this literature helps support the use of game mechanics in learning programs and curriculum.

The Department of Education and Pew Internet Research published important quantitative data used to support blended learning in this thesis. More than a thousand empirical studies of online learning, reviewed and presented in a meta-analysis from the Department of Education, provide a broad base of data for the viability of the blended learning approach. The study took into account a variety of age groups, including the Generation X target group of the educational concept described herein. The meta-analysis looked at 176 experimental or quasi-experimental studies published between 1996 and 2004. 99 of those studies compared online and face-to-face conditions at least once. Only 9 of those 99 studies involved K – 12 learners providing statistical support for the selection of the Generation X target group. (Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2010)

Graham and Bonk’s Handbook of Blended Learning outlined and highlighted different approaches to blended learning (Graham & Bonk, 2006). It also identified, through a series of case studies and reviews, levels at which blended learning can occur. These levels are explored in correlation with Badrul Khan‘s Framework for E-Learning, a widely accepted framework that encompasses eight dimensions (Khan, n.d.). This framework, developed in 1997, has also been called Badrul Khan’s Octagonal Framework and is used here to help create a fluid blended learning model.

This thesis defines a framework for creating an interest-based, blended learning program within a multifaceted institution. It further proposes that adding game mechanics into the actual curriculum will lead to more motivation from the learner. Applications of this framework will result in a blended learning provider.

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