The Electronic Journal of e-Learning provides perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Learning initiatives
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Journal Article

Help! Active Student Learning and Error Remediation in an Online Calculus e‑Help Community  pp227-238

Carla van de Sande, Gaea Leinhardt

© Apr 2010 Volume 5 Issue 3, ICEL 2007, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp173 - 250

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Free, open, online homework help sites appear to be extremely popular and exist for many school subjects. Students can anonymously post problems at their convenience and receive responses from forum members. This mode of tutoring may be especially critical for school subjects such as calculus that are intrinsically challenging and have high attrition rates. However, educational research has focused on tutoring sessions that instruct students on a pre‑determined set of material or topics, and there has been no systematic research on these dynamic, free, open, online tutoring communities. In order to distinguish the student‑initiated e‑help episodes from traditional tutoring sessions, we refer to them as "tutorettes." Each tutorette was assigned a participation code that contained information on the number of contributions by each participant, the sequence of contributions, and the number of different participants. Student problem solving activity, defined by mathematical contributions and efforts, was measured for initial postings and for subsequent contributions. Finally, each tutorette was examined for evidence of mathematical errors and these were classified according to type: pre‑calculus, operational, and conceptual. A tutorette on the limit concept is provided to demonstrate how mathematical queries are resolved in an SOH e‑help community. Participation and problem solving attempts provided evidence of active student learning. Instead of simply using the tutors to do their homework, many students made initial attempts at solutions, queried tutor responses, and applied the help they received to make progress on solving problems. This behaviour appeared to be influenced by the actions of the tutor: Providing solution sketches accompanied by asking direct questions encouraged dialogue, whereas providing quasi‑complete worked solutions seemed to have the opposite effect. In contrast to classroom instruction, students in this e‑help community appeared comfortable in presenting incorrect work and tutors were open and forthright in their commentaries, evaluations, and explanations. In addition, tutors modulated their responses according to the type of error. Pre‑calculus errors and operational (calculus) errors were not accorded the same depth of explanation as conceptual misunderstandings.


Keywords: tutoring, e-help communities, discussion forums, calculus tutoring


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Journal Article

Children’s Problem‑Solving in Serious Games: The “Fine‑Tuning System (FTS)” Elaborated  pp49-60

Chinedu Obikwelu, Janet Read, Gavin Sim

© Feb 2013 Volume 11 Issue 1, ECGBL, Editor: Patrick Felicia, pp1 - 79

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For a child to learn through Problem‑Solving in Serious games, the game scaffolding mechanism has to be effective. Scaffolding is based on the Vygotzkian Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) concept which refers to the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers. Scaffolds in serious games are learning stimulators. The effectiveness of these learning stimulators lies in the way they are managed or regulated. Scaffolds that are not regulated could lead to expertise‑reversal effect or redundancy effect which inhibits learning. In the current classroom application of serious games, the game‑based learning stimulators remain the same for everyone (“blanket scaffolding”) – the learning stimulators are not managed or regulated. In order to make scaffolding in serious games more effective for classroom use, the calibration of the game’s learning stimulators has to be enabled – this would help in meeting the changing needs of the learners. The concept of fading which is critical to scaffolding is introduced to serious games, to facilitate the fine‑tuning of the learning stimulators to the changing needs of the learners. This paper seeks to address the issues in the design and implementation of a Fine‑Tuning System for serious games based on the fading concept. Also discussed in this paper are the factors to be considered in the implementation of the Fine‑Tuning System in serious games. These include fading decisions; fading and learning rates; optimal scaffolding distance; classroom culture and collaborative learning. The adverse effects of neglecting fading such as expertise‑reversal effect and redundancy effect are also discussed.


Keywords: expertise-reversal effect, redundancy effect, fading, adaptable, serious game, fine-tuning system, problem-based learning, scaffolding, ZPD, peer-tutoring


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Journal Issue

Volume 11 Issue 1, ECGBL / Feb 2013  pp1‑79

Editor: Patrick Felicia

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Special ECGBL 2012 issue of EJEL


The papers in this special issue of The Electronic Journal of eLearning have been selected from the papers presented at The 6th European Conference on Games Based Learning, Cork, Ireland 4‑5th October 2012.


This special issue has been edited by Patrick Felicia, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.




Keywords: blended game-based learning, physically interactive digital games, hero's journey, innovation and change management training, teaching game-based learning, citizenship education, game-based learning, dialogic pedagogy, new media, learning outcomes, social media technology, social business gaming, digital game-based learning (DGBL), information systems (IS), information systems security (ISS) and student assessment and learning, language learning, game-based learning, design for preschool learning, expertise-reversal effect, redundancy effect, fading, adaptable, serious game, fine-tuning system, problem-based learning, scaffolding, ZPD, peer-tutoring, game technology model, platform independent game technology model, serious games engineering, model driven engineering, games based learning, model driven serious games development


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