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Homework, learning online and networked homework support
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Michael HorsleyMichael Horsley
From a socio-cultural perspective online and networked homework support could be important in a number of ways. Firstly, online and networked homework support can provide significant resources and knowledge sources to assist students with their homework tasks. Many libraries and school support services have developed websites and online support that provides access to knowledge sources for schools. However, most information sources, whether online or physical, require scaffolding to assist students to use these sources as the knowledge base for learning in a learning environment. Secondly, providing online and networked homework can also enhance the learning environment by providing specific assistance with homework and assessment tasks. A number of online tutoring systems have been developed to support students learning at home. Many businesses worldwide such as tutor.com, Brainfuse, Worldschool and yourtutor, have been created to provide online students support for homework tasks. The critical issue for online tutoring and specific assistance resources lies in providing the scaffolding necessary, given students prior knowledge, to complete tasks in the zone of proximal development. Although such online support can afford learning through the provision of scaffolding, there will be certain learning circumstances and conditions under which direct scaffolding needs to be provided directly with more expert others in a physical context. In some learning situation highly interactive immediately responsive physical communication is necessary for internalisation to occur, so that students can master new knowledge and processes. Thirdly, online and networked homework support may provide scaffolding and assistance for students as they approach the completion of their homework tasks. Such scaffolding can lead to the creation of zones of proximal development for students completing homework, and thus afford significant learning and development. Homework tasks that contribute to learning must be more than routine tasks from the students’ zone of actual development. Tasks affording learning are complex and difficult, and the students are unlikely to be able to complete them without scaffolding and assistance. Online and networked learning support may provide the potential for the development of the necessary cognitive skills likely to lead to learning and development. Scaffolding assistance increases the likelihood that students will internalise the self directed learning and homework management skills considered to be the outcomes of homework support to afford learning, is to examine the nature and the characteristics of the scaffolding that is provided to different learners. Fourthly, studies by Horsley and Walker (2005, 2008) and others (Xu 2004) have demonstrated that many students do not receive assistance with their homework tasks and activities. These research findings also have concluded that students need such assistance and scaffolding of homework tasks for learning and development to occur.Studies of best practice in after school support (Horsley and Walker 2008) have shown that after school learning that scaffolds and assists students to complete complex homework tasks can lead to the development and internalisation of self directed learning and homework management skills.A more balanced appraisal of the possible role of online and networked homework support requires an exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of such support, and the scaffolding implications of its use.Students often lack the thinking and critical skills necessary for affording learning through online and networked homework support. As a result, these new forms of homework assistance reflect many of the same problems that students have in a traditional homework context. As well, online and networked homework context. As well, online and networked homework may present a number of new problems for teachers and students in setting and completing homework tasks.