Горошко Е.И.

Class 2.0 in Ukraine: Gender Analysis

Опубликовано: Class 2.0 in Ukraine: Gender Analysis // Femmes et Nouveau Médias (ed. Fatima Sadiqi). - Fez: Rutledge, 2012. – P.131-154.


The paper presents a description of action research project (ARP) conducted on the base of Upper BA Course (four-year students) in Business Communication delivered in one of technical universities in Ukraine (winter-spring 2009). The collaborative activity within e-Learning 2.0 provides the key object for ARP. The ARP main objectives are to trace the assumed gender peculiarities in online collaboration and try to evaluate them relating to the effectiveness of e-Learning 2.0 and development of gender-friendly model of learning within local context. The main ARP results reveal the existence of Gender Digital Divide (GDD) in Ukraine, indicating that local tertiary is one of the weakest points deepening GDD within the local context. However this is the man not the woman who needs currently more attention and care in Ukrainian tertiary. The intensive e-Learning 2.0 implementation into the local tertiary can be rendered as an effective step to narrow the existing GDD in Ukraine.


1. Introduction

T. Cochrane declares that “…teaching and learning innovations are best implemented when informed by learning theory” (Cochrane 2008: 31). The social constructionist approach towards viewing both gender and learning provides the theoretical foundation for this research.

Why do we apply namely to action research methodology? Usually it is exploited by scholars for preliminary or pilot research, especially when the situation is too ambiguous to frame a precise research question like in grounding theory (O’Brien 2001). According to its principles, it is used when circumstances require flexibility, the involvement of the people in the research, or change must take place quickly or holistically (Ibid). Say it simply action research means “learning by doing” - a group of people identify a problem, do something to resolve it, see how successful their efforts were, and if not satisfied, start again. A more precise definition sounds as: "Action research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to further the goals of social science simultaneously.  Thus, there is a dual commitment in action research to study a system and concurrently to collaborate with members of the system in changing it in what is together regarded as a desirable direction. Accomplishing this twin goal requires the active collaboration of researcher and client, and thus it stresses the importance of co-learning as a primary aspect of the research process" (Gilmore, Krantz and Ramirez 1986: 161).

O’Brien emphasizes that a couple of items distinguish action research methodology from other types of research (O’Brien 2001). Firstly, it focuses on turning the people involved into researchers. Secondly, learners study better, and more willingly apply what they have learned, when they do it themselves. Thirdly, this methodology possesses also a social dimension - the research takes place in real-setting, and targets to solve real problems. Finally, the initiating researcher, unlike in other disciplines, makes no attempt to remain objective, but openly acknowledges their bias to the other learners (Ibid).

As for theoretic framework notions of gender, learning, and cyberspace are viewed as social constructs. Additionally notions of community of practice (Wenger), virtual community of practice (Brown), e-Learning 2.0 (Downes), and gender-friendly online class (Blum) are exploited in this research as leading terms.


2. Theoretic Background

2.1. E-Learning 2.0

New social-constructivist pedagogy social software (interactive collaborative software) is one of the key features of what has been coined as Web 2.0 according to its creator Tim O'Reilly (2005). This social software includes blogs, social networks, wikis, RSS, instant messaging, podcasting, social book marking, Skype, etc. Under the deep influence of web 2.0 services the concept of e-Learning starts transforming drastically into a new educational model based on the conceptual principles of web 2.0 (mutual contributing, collaborating, creating (Hargadon 2008)). This new format is coined as e-Learning 2.0 similarly to the term web 2.0 that initiates this new learning format (Downes 2005). It is characterized by such features as interactivity, openness, connectivity and collaborative nature that constitute pedagogical foundation for e-Learning 2.0. Thus e-Learning 2.0 inherits greatly all basic features of web 2.0, and e-learning 2.0 pedagogical model focuses upon enhancing interactivity, networking and collaboration online. To be effective this model also must be student-centred, knowledge-centred, assessment-centred and community-centred as a number of scholars argue (Sharples, Taylor, Vavoula 2005). One can consider that the same principles are applied towards gender-friendly model of education (Blum 1999; Bender 2003; Statham, et al. 1991; Yates 2001; Hongbo 2006; Goroshko 2008) increasing “gender-friendlessness” of learning in itself.


2.2. Collaboration in e-Learning 2.0

Also it is a collaborative approach in pedagogy that provides the basic requirements towards e-Learning 2.0. Collaborative learning in this research is viewed within the framework of Ted Panitz’s approach where principles of delegating authority, acceptance of responsibility, and consensus building through cooperation by group members provide an effective foundation for learning (Panitz 1996: 7).

One can consider collaborative learning as inseparable, intrinsic, conceptually inbuilt part of e-Learning 2.0. Without collaboration it is impossible to use effectively this format of education. However for local education this collaborative approach has been implemented into educational system only recently since Ukrainian education from the Soviet time possesses a number of features which are opposing to the learner-centred model of education. Local educational system is based mainly on a teacher-centred approach to learning, lecturing format of information delivery, low technical support of learning including ICT, rigid hierarchic structure of managerial system (Goroshko 2008). Furthermore team-working activity based on collaboration in learning is neither widely used nor encouraged in Ukrainian higher education. Therefore one can hypothesize that the implementation of e-Learning 2.0 into local educational context will facilitate its transformation with the following integration into the common European educational space (The Bologna Process, which is a must to Ukraine), and put into practice step by step a gender-friendly model of education since strong patriarchy stereotypes dominate in Ukrainian pedagogy (Bystydzienski 2003; Goroshko 2008). It remains rather unfriendly towards women, and gender-biased (Goroshko 2008). In general, according to Gender Gap Index 2010 Ukraine occupies 63 places out of 134 countries (Gender Gap Index 2010: 301). Jill Bystydzienski argues that “Ukrainian women are subject to many formal and informal barriers to their political and economic participation, yet there is very little awareness in the country, including in higher education, regarding the conditions and processes that create and maintain gender inequality. Women and men are differently located in the emerging economy (women are found usually in the small-scale, service sector) and are differently imagined as citizens, while politics is being redefined as a masculine endeavour. An important result of continuing disadvantaged position of, and  discrimination against, women is the loss of potential talent and human capital to the political institutions and economies in transition to meet the challenges that lie ahead” (Bystydzienski 2003: 3). The situation practically remains the same eight years on.


2.3. Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP)

It is considered that collaborative principles provide the foundation not only for e-Learning 2.0 but also for Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP) model functioning. This term coined in this century describes communities of practice functioning through the Net (Brown 2005). Usually this term VCoP describes a certain community initiated and based on collaborative human co-shared online and offline activities of any kind. Etienne Wenger argues that “communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour” (Wenger 1998: 87; 2002). Richard Brown applies this term towards virtual reality keeping all basic principle of CoP notion structure. A share, concern, or  passion for something that people intend to do or learn how to do provides the base for the CoP model functioning. And “learning can be the reason for the community”, as P. Brown declares (Brown 2005: 1). Not all groups but just only the special groups can be identified as a community of practice. There are three key notions which define this type of union (group): domain, community and practice. Thus the functioning of VCoP is based on co-sharing activity, and commitment to the same principles, interests, and ideas. VCoP produces a shared set (repertoire) of knowledge, experiences, stories, tools, ways of thinking, etc. or — in short a shared practice as Brown defines it. Hence a collaborative online class or Class 2.0 can be viewed as a VCoP, since it meets all requirements specified above: its members are engaged into common shared activity and practice off- and online, committed to common (shared) goals, ideas and interests through a substantial period of time, and reproduce regularly the same activity.


2.4. VCoP and Gender

The notions of gender and gender-friendly learning environment can be viewed also through VCoP model. Thus, Victoria Bergvall declares that CoP approach in gender and communication research concentrates on the constructive practices of a group – especially mutual engagement of learning as a jointly negotiated practice of gender (Bergvall 1999: 273; Holmes, Meyerhoff 1999). Rather than taking gender differences for granted (gender determinism), this approach specifies the learning and mutability gendered displays across groups or communities. This approach naturalizes intrinsic group variations not marking them as deviant (Holmes & Meyerhoff 1999; Eckert & McConell-Ginet 1999). It is viewed as rather effective for gender peculiarities on and offline research.


2.5. Gender and Gender Learning Off and Online

Metaphorically speaking there are three dominating approaches surrounding gender issues on the Net: The demographic agora, the male mystique, and the female frontier. Thus, Kirsteen Monteith argues that research data concerning the impact of gender on the Internet currently can be divided into three major theories:

·                     The first theory maintains that the Internet is gender neutral, and that women and men can use or participate online on equal bases;

·                     The second theory considers the virtual realm as a reflection of the offline world where men and women operate on unequal terms, and men dominate (Monteith 2002; King 2000: 2);

·                     The third theory suggests that the Internet may be seen as a female domain less as a superhighway and more as a cosy village square, where people meet, talk, and learn, a meeting point, a place “where women are making and moving into a digital lifestyle that was previously perceived as a men’s club” (Spender 2000; Monteith 2002: 16).

A review of the literature concerning gender and CMC testifies that men’s and women’s communication differs but it is not the mirror of face-to-face (FtF) differences (Peddle 1997; Brown 1998). Simultaneously one of the most widespread approaches towards viewing gender in education is based on considering gender as social and cultural construction of sex (Maher, Tetrault 1994; Meßmer, Schmitz 2004; Kuhlen 2006). Gender mainstreaming in e-Learning considers the gender perspective for all aspects and processes of e-Learning (Kuhlen 2006). It aims as Rainer Kuhlen emphasises “at establishing equal opportunities for men and women not by ignoring differences between the sexes but by taking into account the distinctive features which have been developed over time and under social and culture-related circumstances” (Ibid: 1). Within this theoretic framework the concept of potential provides a basic prerequisite for gender-friendly model of education (Metz-Göckel and Roloff 1995). It argues that both genders (females and males) have the same potential for a great number of aspects in development at their disposal. However the realization of these potentials is stipulated socially and culturally as gender in itself depends on social circumstances and culture-dependent value systems. Therefore gender-specific behaviour in e-learning (such as taking initiatives in group processes, multitasking, delegating authorities or having preferences for domain-specific knowledge and programs) is mainly not sex-related, but is permanently constructed in social interaction (Kuhlen 2006: 1).

Kuhlen delineates a number of principal research questions addressed in the emerging problem-area of gendered e-Learning:

·                     “What are some of the differences in communication styles between men and women in online environments?

·                     Men and women have different ways of "knowing" and learning. How does this translate in an online environment?

·                     Does an online environment facilitate or hinder women's way of learning?

·                     Is gender important in online learning?

·                     How do we manage our identity online?

·                     What motivates women to learn online? Are these the same things that motivate men?

·                     What are the characteristics of women who are successful as online learners? Are success factors different between men and women?” (Ibid: 7).

The literature analysis shows there are a lot of gender differences with respect to ICT and e-learning generally (Blum 1999; Monteith 2002; Hongbo 2006; Goroshko 2008). Some findings from research testify the following: there are a lot of discrepancies between male and female perspectives and visions of e-learning (Blum 1999; Hongbo 2006). Primarily female perception of e-Learning was more positive than the male attitude (Blum 1999). There were differences in self-assessment of ICT competence, self-confidence, commitments to computer science, general attitudes towards computers and professional ICT training, and expectations from the use of ICT (Derichs-Kunstmann/Auszra 1999; Dickhäuser 2001; Beyer et al. 2003; Henderson 2005). Definitely males were more positive in all mentioned positions concerning attitudes towards ICT.

Some scholars say about gender biases in the culture of learning (Derichs-Kunstmann/Auszra 1999, Blum 1999; Bender 2003). Thus male learning culture is characterized as: Tendency to dominant behaviour in educational situations, more frequent take-over of monitoring discourse, longer and more frequent contributions in discourse. Men are more often involved into development of enforcement strategies and elaboration and maintenance of competitive relations. They incline to competitive behaviour and desire to impress others.

Female learning culture is depicted by such features as a tendency to cooperative behaviour and orientation, preference for group work, willingness to be responsible for ongoing discourse and to discuss topics, supportive of others. Their contributions in discourse are shorter. Women are more open for proposals of other people and for cooperative work in general (Herring 2011). They care also for a just distribution of learning tasks.

Additionally Susan C. Herring highlights two studies that found that men contribute significantly more to online discussion: “It isn't that women don't have ideas and/or a fact to share with others, but rather that the environment’s tone tends to drive women away” (Herring 2011). Thus, men tended to assert their opinions as “facts,” whereas women tended to phrase their informative messages as suggestions, offers, and other non-assertive acts. Herring specifies towards the Facebook service that women share information, but they also socialize and support one another. In other words, the gender difference was in their communication styles, not in the actual informativeness of their contributions. The scholar viewing a social media based learning experience recommends considering the next when establishing the norms for the collaborative space: “Ensure that no one uses rude, intimidating language or challenges others, provide the ability to control the communication, and encourage social consultancy” (Ibid). Herring argues that “the Wikipedia model of neutral facts concentrated in a single site may someday be superseded by knowledge-sharing environments with women as the primary contributors” (Ibid).

Certain peculiarities are fixed between individual vs. group learning activities (Brenda 2003; Henderson 2005; Ella et al 2007). Additional a lot of differences are found in male and female e-learning and ICT experiences, students’ motivation and learning cultures (Blum 1999; Kirkup 2004; Kuhlen 2006; Goroshko 2008, Herring 2011).


2.6. Gender and Collaboration Off- and Online

As for gender aspects of collaborative learning many gender peculiarities in collaborative activity offline are fixed but there is very scarce research and data concerning gendered collaboration online especially within learning setting. Hence namely online gendered collaboration class activity is chosen for this study owing to the lack of relevant scientific data within local context.

The results obtained through English-speaking context are also inconsiderable in number. They indicate that gender really influences motivation, participation and successful completion of the online project (Ditto 2004; Vermeulen 2008; Hsu & Wang 2003). In a number of studies it is revealed that gender really influences learning motivation, computer skills, learning behaviour, and the level of participation in online class (Maher & Tetrault, 1994; Savicki 1996; Yates 2001). It is shown also that the duration of the study, the nature of the task involved, and, cultural effects or the combination of those factors may be connected with gender variable (Hsu & Wang 2003: 34). Kimberly Dawn Blum (1999) says that females are more empathetic and collaborative, rather than competitive unlike males.

The main summary of gender impact on CMC and online learning can be formulated as women and men interact in different ways in e-learning. Trisha Bender also declares “that if one can observe the same features on FtF and e-classes it can be inferred that e-Learning possesses a collaborative potential, this can be made enormous use of by female learners who enjoy interaction and sharing as their primary learning style. Any women who initially hampered by low confidence levels in their academic and technical abilities might benefit from having an online mentor or student partner to help them over the hurdles”. The online tutor, teacher or instructor has the job to encourage the collaboration between women and stimulate the independent work of male learners. However this suggestion by Bender presupposes gender differences as a starting point. One can declare it must be more augmented comprehensive and not so essentialist approach towards gender online without presupposition of existing gender biases as sui generis.

Alfred Rovai researches the dynamics of classroom community during a short graduate-level distance class. In this study female students manifest a stronger sense of community than their male counterparts both at the start and end of the course. Simultaneously female students demonstrate a mostly connected communication patterns while male students show mostly independent ones (Rovai 2002).

Miika Marttunen and Leena Laurinen study how Finish students practice argumentation in two e-mail learning groups as a part of academic debate class. In this research female students demonstrate agreement more often than male students, while counterattacking and elaborative neutrality are more common among males (Marttunen, Laurinen 2001).

It is also testified that culture impacts greatly on the collaboration online. Let’s say in reserved Arabic societies cross gender socialization is neither widespread nor encouraged as Eshaa M. Alkhalifa points out (Alkhalifa w.d.). However in her own research the effects of cross-gender online collaboration are tested on a group of students working towards a common goal. The research reveals that namely female students demonstrate a clear improvement in learning in comparison with those who don’t participate in the Bulletin Board discussion (Ibid: 1). Also the research reveals the effect of group composition on male and female online and offline learning. Stephen J. Bostock and Wu Lizhi study the learning activity through a large online course, where students are divided into 18 asynchronous online discussion groups with different gender proportions. The number and cognitive content of student messages are investigated. The research indicates that females write more messages than males with no difference in the cognitive quality of message content. In mixed groups, females wrote fewer messages than in all-female groups but males wrote more messages than in all-male groups (Bostock, Lizhi 2005). Additionally the research testifies that females tend to prefer online discussions and performed better than males in other learning activities. However, females said they were less confident in using computers in general, and had a greater preference for paper over wholly online work (Ibid: 83). The study conducted by Ella, Roberta and Andrea reveals that gender composition of online group influences the effectiveness of e-Learning also (Ella et al 2007: 33).

The format of learning – FtF, distance or blended - also impacts gender collaboration online. Richard Ocker and George Yaverbaum investigate male and female students’ experiences in FtF and distance asynchronous collaborative activities through business course. The results show that women are less satisfied than men with FtF collaborative work but more done with online activity. The scholars explain these findings by the supposition that asynchronous educational setting creates more opportunities for more equal participation (Ocker and Yaverbaum 2002).

Constance E. Wanstreet and David S. Stein in their research address the implications of gender on participation, collaboration, and ultimately shared understanding and propose a framework of in which to examine collaborative knowledge building. They use the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model as the basis of this study values collaborative learning through discussion. They render that namely the CoI framework assumes that learning occurs through the inter-action of three overlapping elements: teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence. The main result testifies that collaborative knowledge building depends more on the learning context and group member role than on gender exclusively (Wanstreet, Stein 2011).

As for metadata in this subject area Olaf Zawacki‐Richter and Christine von Prümmer explore the associations between gender, collaboration and research methods in distance education investigation. Their study is based on a review of 695 working papers published in five leading distance education journals in the period between 2000 and 2008. It enlightens a significant trend towards collaborative research in distance education. There are no significant gender differences regarding the number of co‐authors of collaborative papers. However female researchers significantly choose wider range of topics than their male colleagues. This study also shows that women are over‐represented in research areas such as learner characteristics, learner support or interaction, and communication in learning communities, while men are more concerned with topics stereotypically associated with them: technology and management. There is a significant propensity for female researchers to use qualitative methods or to triangulate qualitative and quantitative methods. Research methods also affect collaboration. On average, research teams on quantitative projects are significantly larger than those who produce articles that are qualitative in nature (Zawacki‐Richter, Prümmer 2010). This meta-study enlightens the topicality of gendered collaborative research on- and offline.

However it is necessary to stress there are no studies conducted on regular base especially across cultures about the influence of gender on collaborative learning online through e-learning 2.0 context.


3. Research Design

The project novelty is in the combination of gender and collaborative e-Learning 2.0 activity research within VCoP model. There are no data found about gender impacts on e-Learning 2.0 practices particularly in local educational paradigm. Also a collaboration approach is rendered as an effective facilitating tool to make e-Learning 2.0 more gender-friendly. In this research the virtual community of practice formed through collaborative e-Learning 2.0 activities is coined as Class 2.0.

The data obtained through the course teaching with the help of online free association tests; online questionnaires (surveys) and students’ working (learning) group projects evaluations are used as a ARP research base to trace and depict gender peculiarities in collaboration online.

The main research hypothesis is formulated as: since all intrinsic characteristics of web 2.0 and originated from it - e-Learning 2.0 (like collaboration, interactivity, openness and connectivity) simultaneously present the most important features for gender-friendly learning surrounding intrinsically. Hence namely the e-Learning 2.0 format of education must be more gender-friendly model of learning. Its implementation will promote gender equity in education on and offline and enhance learning effectiveness for both genders especially through local (Ukrainian) context. Thus, key ARP developmental goals are to promote gender equity in teaching and learning and facilitate the integration of local tertiary into the Bologna educational space with more rigid gender-sensitive educational policy requirements.

Thus key ARP questions cover the next points:

·                     How intensively and in what way does gender connect with and impact e-Learning 2.0 and vice versa?

·                     How does gender impact collaborative learning activity online?

·                     Does e-Learning 2.0 promote gender equity in tertiary or not?

Empirical base for this research is formed through Class 2.0 collaborating online learning practices realized within group projects’ activities (see Table N1 “List of Project Titles with Presenters’ Gender Indication” in Appendix N1). The task facing the students is to prepare online projects concerning the basic communicative skills such as: effective presentation, negotiating, meeting, time-management or interviewing skills, etc, within managerial business context using web 2.0 technologies (wiki, google.doc (online presentations), e-portfolio, social networks) as platforms for project realization. These activities are run through teaching class in Business Communication for students majoring in Finances and International Management. The attitudes towards ICT entities including web 2.0 tools, online collaboration and e-Learning 2.0 are traced, depicted and analyzed through gender perspectives. Also students’ opinions, questionnaires, surveys of online class activities and course evaluations are processed and used in ARP. All class activities are coordinated through the Moodle Learning Space located at http://web2.kpi.kharkov.ua.

The data are obtained twice - before (input data) and after finishing the course (output data). For the ARP ethical reasons all procedures are conducted on voluntary base. Only the anonymous course evaluation filling is obligatory for all students registered to the class (133 persons (50 males and 83 females)). There are five input and two output surveys, and one course evaluation conducted in the course. The five input surveys (before the course) cover issues concerning the Internet access and use, Net, motivations to use the Net, knowledge and personal attitudes towards ICT, collaborative activity and gender aspects of computer-mediated communication (CMC).

As for research ethics in the depicted study all levels of cyberspace (e-learning 2.0 environments and learning discourse through it) are considered as a “private” domain. As a result written participants’ consents are obtained before conducting research. As for personal data privacy protection Class 2.0 platform doesn’t keep any information identifying computer addresses (cookies) or browser profiles. There are also no "cookies" used to store users’ information. The questions concerning the anonymity of informants (if they want), consent to locate all project materials as an open-source in public domain on the Internet have been obtained from learners before learning. One can specify that any permission from local university authorities for ARP conduction isn’t required in Ukraine.


4. ARP Data Discussion

After the end of Class 2.0 all data are arranged, processed and analyzed according to three criteria: period of learning (input/output), gender (male/female), attitude towards format of learning (collaboration), and knowledge of web 2.0 services for ARP objectives.

On the voluntary base 70 females and 35 males decided to participate in all surveys and projects’ preparation. 18 females and 15 males only passed credit and went through the final course evaluation. The total number of students registered to this class covered 133 persons (83 women and 50 men).

The input questionnaire about the collaboration shows that “web 2.0” is known before the course only for three males and seven females. As for web 2.0 services blogs, wikis, instant messengers, and social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Odnoklassniki, vKontakte) are used by students rather intensively even before the course running. Social bookmarking (Del.ic.ious, BobrDobr) and photo services (Flickr, Picassa), and Learning managerial systems (e.g. Moodle) have been practically unknown for students. Questionnaires also indicate that males more enthusiastically than females wanted to expand their knowledge about web 2.0 and social software services.

After finishing the course the students’ attitude towards web 2.0 technologies is changed drastically. Output questionnaire reveals that females rate 4.7 and males do 4.3 (The Likert scale from 5 (very positive) to 1 (very negative) is applied in this ARP). Blogging, social networks, Google Office, Flickr, Moodle, and YouTube services are rated uppermost. There are no gender differences in the results obtained. Only males change their evaluation of podcasting - from rather negative to more positive (to the Likert 5-rating scale). However due to the number of learners it is impossible to conduct quantitative analysis and additional research is required. Thus namely the sample volume of participants selected only on voluntary base presents one of the biggest limitations for this research.

In one of the ARP questionnaires students are asked to depict the notion web 2.0 with the help of words (verbally). Verbal responses are obtained through free association test conduction. Students specified the second web as modern, useful, helpful, and simple. It is viewed as communication and speed, and share of knowledge. It is useful, terrific, fantastic, and even progressive, etc. There are no negative responses at all registered in students’ definitions to this notion. As for gender peculiarities female associations are more diverse and specific. Males render web 2.0 more stereotypically and define it not so metaphorically. One can suppose that namely female students perceive web 2.0 technologies in learning more emotionally and enthusiastically.

Concerning collaboration activity input research data show there is no deep gender gap in students’ preliminary attitudes towards collaboration and team-working activity online. The mean score for females is 3.9 and for males is 4.4 (to the Likert 5-rating scale). After the course these indicators are changed to 4.4 for females and 4.3 for males. The data reveal that male attitude towards collaboration and team-working activity is shifted to the direction “little more negative”. Simultaneously women perceived the process of collaboration online more positively.

There is practically no gender difference in team-working experience before the course. Almost half of sample students have possessed this experience before and more than half have additional experience in developing project with the help of ICT. As for group composition before the course female students want to work in the same-sex team more than in the mixed one. As for male students they prefer to work with women much more than with men. Only for three males and ten females there is no difference in what kind of team (according to sex composition) to collaborate.

Output data reveal that there is practically no difference in male and female attitudes towards participation and collaboration in online projects.

As for the role distributing and delegating authorities in project management males specify that their roles are to help in preliminary talk about how to run the project (15 persons); present and participate in project (four persons); search information for the project (four persons) and consult project members (one person), ten males mention that they keep the project running. Females evaluate their participation in project more specifically and diverse. They enlighten that first of all they must be multitaskers in project collaboration. They tell that they want to be project leaders (seven persons) (by the way all seven projects are headed by females), presenters (six persons), 22 persons search the information required for project, 21 participate in project preparation, seven - in project concept development, four – in project idea generation, three - in project recording, one female provides logistics to the project and one does moral and psychological support. Therefore the results obtain show that female roles in project management are more active and diverse. They combine and switch between roles through all stages of project realization more often than males. Also they play more specific roles within the project management providing logistics and psychological assistance to the project team. However the most important ARP finding is that namely females not males coordinate and head project activity or organize collaboration online. This finding is of critically importance for our research namely in the local context since patriarchy culture and traditionalistic views still prevail in Ukrainian educational system (Goroshko 2008).

The data obtained testify also that there are a lot of differences in male and female specifications of main advantages and disadvantages in collaboration online. All specifications are summarized into the Table 2 “Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration Online (Students’ Questionnaire Data)” (see Appendix N2).

One can emphasise that female students among pluses of collaboration activity mention the importance of obtaining leadership skills in team-working and view both advantages and disadvantages in collaboration online more from “group perspective” standpoints in contrast to male students that perceive collaboration more from their personal, individualistic positions.

Students also face the question: “Do you want to participate in the group online projects in the future and use them for learning?” Results indicate that more males than females want to collaborate online in the future but they don’t differ strikingly. One can suppose that these results go against the other data obtained through the ARP showing more optimistic female views on collaboration activity and participation in it. However, additional research is required to provide more insight on collaboration online and its linkage with gender and web 2.0 technologies and effectiveness of e-learning 2.0 overall.


5. Limitations

This research possesses a number of limitations. However, this is the size of sample presenting the main obstacle. To conduct quantitative statistic research it requires increasing the number of participants with diverse backgrounds. It might be useful to examine the impact of educational culture and learners’ diverse cultural backgrounds on collaboration online through the use of more qualitative and quantitative approaches basing on ethnomethodology and statistics analysis’ use. The research also reveals the longitudinal observations are needed to examine more deeply the situation with gendered Class 2.0 taking in mind a rapid development both ICT and educational paradigms in post-soviet tertiary.


6. Conclusions

Although the students are quite actively involved in the learning, the obstacles in their everyday life prevent them to participate effectively in collaboration online. These obstacles are mainly related not to the collaboration in itself but stipulated by extra curricula circumstances: deep digital gap in Ukraine (access to ICT, the speed of the Internet, the payment for Internet access, lack of a great number of needed literature resources, as well as the difficulties existing in the process of constant ongoing higher educational reforms in Ukraine).

The obtained data also enlighten that namely male students require tutor’s attention and assistance in organizing collaborative activity online more. They must be more motivated and prepared in this area. Hence the material received in this ARP shows that the local virtual classroom presents more female than male domain being a convenient working place namely for girl-students. My data practically confirm the results obtained by Kirsteen Monteith in English-speaking virtual online class (Montheith 2002). The researcher hypothesizes that gender sometimes must be universal and omnipresent factor in online education generally. E-tutors and educators need to develop more deliberate and gender-sensitive approach to accepting claims of gender-friendly Class 2.0.

Supplementary stronger training component must be introduced into team-working and leadership skills development integrated simultaneously into BA and MA local university curricula especially within managerial context. In addition certain activities related to multitasker’s skills obtaining must be provided through local university curricula in management and MBA programmers.

Our ARP data contradict substantially to the well-spread opinions and stereotyped views about that only female students call for assistance in e-Learning (Blum 1999; Bender 2003). That is the man not the woman who needs currently more in tutor’s attention and care in Ukrainian tertiary.

One can stress that the English language of course instruction presents one more serious problem for students’ learning revealed through the students’ course evaluation. Therefore the scare testing practices, poor knowledge of foreign languages, absence of special training programs both in ICT and gender equity issues, plus low level of team-working skills development among students prevailing in local tertiary impact also very negatively collaboration and project development online.

Overall this research reveals not only the existing of severe GDD in Ukraine but indicates that the local tertiary presents one of the weakest points in GDD deepening. Thus the e-Learning 2.0 implementation into the local tertiary might be an effective step to narrow the existing gap in Ukraine. 


7. References

1.                  Action research From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (w.d.) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_research.

2.                  Alkhalifa, E. M. (w. d.). Gender Differences in Learning Through Online Collaboration in a Reserved Society from http://www.silvertair.com/papers/Gender_Differences_Last.doc.

3.                  Barab, A., Sah, Th., K. M., Merrill, H. (2001). From Information Dissemination to Fostering Collaboration // Learning Research. - Vol.12. – N3. – P. 123-145.

4.                  Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning: Theory, Practice and Assessment. - Library of Congress, Stylus, Sterling, Virginia.

5.                  Bergvall, V. (1999). Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Language and Gender // Language in Society: - Vol.28. - N2. – P.273-293.

1.      Bing, J., Freed, A. eds. (1996). Rethinking Language and Gender Research: Theory and Practice. – London: Longman.

2.      Blum, K. D. (1999). Gender Differences in Asynchronous Learning in Higher Education: Learning Styles, Participation Barriers and Communication Patterns // Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network. - Vol.3.-N(1). - from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/vol3_issue1/blum.htm.

3.      Bostock, S. J., Lizhi, W. (2005). Gender in student online discussions // Innovations in Education and Teaching International. - Vol. 42. - No. 1. - P. 73–85.

4.      Brown, N. J. (1998). Women Gender Switching on the Internet: A Comparison of Gendered Communication Style. PhD Thesis. - Bowling Green State University. –207 p.

5.      Brown, R. (2005). Pragmatic Suggestions for Growing On-line Communities of Practice. from: http://www.associatedcolleges-tc.org/cotf/COTFXI/materials/Pragmatic-handout.pdf.

6.      Bystydzienski, J. (2003). Developing a Women's/Gender Studies Programs University Partnership to Promote Curricular Transformation Feedom Proposal. – USAID, 2003 (Manuscript).

7.      Cochrane, T. (2008). The Educational Potential of Wireless Mobile Devices and Web2. Innovation in eLearning Project. The Educational Potential of Wireless Mobile Devices and Web2 // E-Learning Guidelines for New Zealand. - from: http://elg.massey.ac.nz/index.php?title=The_educational_potential_of_Wireless_Mobile_Devices_and_Web2.

8.      Collaborative Learning Project (w.d.). - from: http://www.collaborativelearning.org/.

9.      Derichs-Kunstmann, K. (2004). Gender sensitive didactics for adult education // Public Workshop “Inspirations from Europe on Gender Mainstreaming” Tallinn, Estonia, March 26-29, 2004.-  from: http://arj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/1/5

10.  Derichs-Kunstmann, K., Auszra, S. (1999). Von der Inszenierung des Geschlechterverhältnisses zur geschlechtsgerechten Didaktik: Konstitution und Reproduktion des Geschlechterverhältnisses in der Erwachsenenbildung. - 1999. - from: http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/fiab/pdf/onlinetexte/Gender.pdf.

11.  Dickhäuser, O. (2001). Computernutzung und Geschlecht. – Münster-Berlin: Waxmann. - 166s.

12.  Dick, B., Stringer, E., and Huxham, Ch. (2009). Theory in action research // Action Research. – Vol. 7. - N1. – P. 5-12.

13.  Dillenbourg, P., Baker, M., Blaye, A., O'Malley, C. (1996). The evolution of research on collaborative learning // In E. Spada &P. Reiman (Eds). In Humans and Machine: Towards an Interdisciplinary Learning Science. - Oxford: Elsevier. - P. 189-211.

14.  Ditto, R., (2004). Teaching and Learning through Online Collaboration. - from: http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2004/04/Teaching-and-Learning-Through-Online-Collaboration.aspx.

15.  Downes, S. (2005). E-learning 2.0 // Stephen’s Web (October 17, 2005). - from: http://www.downes.ca/post/31741.

16.  Eckert, P., McConnell-Ginet, S. (1998). Communities of Practice: Where Language, Gender and Power All Live // Language and Society (Reader). – UK.: Basewell Blackboard. - P. 484-494.

17.  Ella S. R., Mebane M., Solimeno A., Tomai M. (2007). Gender differences in online collaborative learning groups promoting affective education and social capital. - from: http://pepsic.bvs-psi.org.br/pdf/pee/v11nspe/v11nspea03.pdf.

18.  Ferris S. P. (1996). Women Online: Cultural and Relational Aspects of Women’s Communication in Online Discussion Groups // Interpersonal Computing and Technology: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century. - Vol.4. - N3-4. – P.29-40.

19.  Gilmore, T., Krantz, J. and Ramirez, R. (1986) Action Based Modes of Inquiry and the Host-Researcher Relationship // Consultation - Vol.5. - N3.

20.  Global Gender Gap Report (2010) // World Economic Forum. – P. 300 –from: http://www.weforum.org/en/Communities/Women%20Leaders%20and%20Gender%20Parity/GenderGapNetwork/index.htm.

21.  Goroshko, O. (2008). Gender equity through gender teaching online // Proceedings of the 4th International Barcelona Conference on Higher Education. - 2008. – Barcelona GUNI. - Vol. 3. Higher education and gender equity. – P.300-342.

22.  Gustavsen, B. (2008). Action research, practical challenges and the formation of theory // Action Research. – Vol. 6. - N4. – P. 421–437.

23.  Herring, S. (2011). A Difference of Communication Styles // The New-York Times Opinion Pages. - from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/02/where-are-the-women-in-wikipedia/communication-styles-make-a-difference.

24.  Holmes, J., Meyerhoff, M. (1999). The Community of Practice: Theories and Methodologies in Language and Gender Research // Language in Society. – Vol. 28. – P. 186-189.

25.  Hongbo, S. (2006). Effects of Gender and Perceived Interaction on Learner motivation, Sense of Community and Learner Role in Internet-Based Distance Education. PhD Thesis. The College of Education of Ohio University. – 279p. - from: http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi/Song%20Hongbo.pdf?acc.

26.  Hsu, T., & Wang, H. F. (2003a). Effects of Gender, GPA, Computer Self-Efficacy, and learning Motivation on the Collaborative E-Learning Participation // Proceedings of the 2003 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare & Higher Education, Phenoix, Arizona. – P. 241-248.

27.  Hsu, T., & Wang, H. F. (2003b). Gender Effects on Collaborative learning Behaviour in CSCL // Proceedings of the 2003 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare & Higher Education, Phoenix, Arizona. – P. 1919-1926.

28.  King L. J. (2000). Gender Issues in Online Communities // Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. – Vol.18. - N1. - from: http://www.cpsr.org/publications/newsletters/issues/2000/Winter2000/king.html.

29.  Kirkup, G., (1995). The Importance of Gender as a Category in Open and Distance Learning. Paper presented at the conference Putting the Leaner First: Learner-centered Approaches in open and distance learning. Cambridge, UK.

30.  Kuhlen, R. (2006). Collaborative e-learning - an opportunity to identify and to overcome gender barriers. - from: http://www.inf-wiss.uni-konstanz.de/People/RK/MATERIALIEN/Vortraege06-Web/RK-elearning-gender060106-WordV.pdf.

31.  Maher, F. A., Tetrault, M.K.T. (1994). The Feminist Classroom. New York: Basic Books.

32.  Marks R. B., Sibley S. D. (2006). Distance Education and Learning Styles: Some Interesting Results // Journal of College Teaching & Learning. –Vol.3. – N.3 - P.69-80.

33.  Marttunen, M., Laurinen, L. (2001). Quality of Students’ Argumentation by e-mail // Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Learning Environments Research. – Vol.5. - N1. – P.99-123.

34.  Meßmer, R., Schmitz, S. (2004). Gender Demands on e-Learning. Centre in the Internet Society: Culture, Psychology and Gender. - from:

35.  Metz-Göckel S., Roloff Ch. (1995). Ungeschadet des Geschlechts... Das Potentiale-Konzept und Debatten der Frauenforschung // Wetterer, Angelika [Hrsg.]: Die soziale Konstruktion von Geschlecht in Professionalisierungsprozessen. Frankfurt/M. - New York. - S.263-286.

36.  Monteith, K. (2002). Gendered Learning and Learning About Gender Online, A Content Analysis of Online Discussion. - from http://www.odeluce.stir.ac.uk/docs/GenderedLearning.pdf.

37.  O'Brien, R. (2001). Um exame da abordagem metodológica da pesquisa ação [An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research]. In Roberto Richardson (Ed.), Teoria e Prática da Pesquisa Ação [Theory and Practice of Action Research]. João Pessoa, Brazil: Universidade Federal da Paraíba. (English version). - from: http://www.web.ca/~robrien/papers/arfinal.html.

38.  Ocker, R. and Yaverbaum, G.J. (2002), Collaborative Learning Environments: Exploring Student Attitudes and Satisfaction in Face-to-Face and Asynchronous Computer Conferencing Settings // Journal of Interactive Learning Research. – Vol.12. - N4. – P. 427-448.

39.  O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0 // Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. – N30.

40.  Rovai, A. (2002). Building Sense of Community at a Distance // International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. - Vol. 3. - No.1. – P.39-50.

41.  Panitz, T. (1996). Collaborative learning: Some points for discussion // DeLiberations on teaching and learning in higher education: A magazine for academics, librarians and educational developers. - from http://www.lgu.ac.uk/deliberations/collab.learning/panitz.html.

42.  Plou, D. S. (2005). What about gender issues in the Information Society // Communicating in the Information Society, (Ed. by B. Girard. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, URISD). - P. 11-29.

43.  Risman B. J. (2004). Gender as a Social Structure. Theory Wrestling with Activism // Gender and Society. –Vol.18. – N4. – P.429 -450.

44.  Safran, C., Gütl, C. & Helic, D. (2007). The Impact of Web 2.0 on Learning at a Technical University - A usage survey. In T. Bastiaens & S. Carliner (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2007 (pp. 436-443). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

45.  Savicki, V. (1996). Gender Language Style and Group Composition in Internet Discussion Groups. - from: (http://jcmc.huji.ac.il/vol2/issue3/savicki.html).

46.  Sharples, M., Taylor, J., and Vavoula, G. (2005) Towards a Theory of Mobile Learning. Proceedings of mLearn 2005 Conference, Cape Town.

47.  Spender, D. (2000). The Digital Life Style for Women // The CPSR Newsletter. – Vol. 18. - N1. - from: http://cpsr.org/prevsite/publications/newsletters/issues/2000/Winter2000/spender.html/

48.  Statham, A., Richardson L., Cook J. (1991). Gender and University Teaching: A Negotiated Difference. - New York: State University of New York Press.

49.  Tarule, J. M. (1996). Voices in Dialogue: Collaborative Ways of Knowing. In N. Goldberg, J. Tarule, B. M. Clinchy, & M. Belenky (eds.) Knowledge, Difference and Power Essays Inspired by Women’s Way of Knowing. - NY: Basic Books. - P.272-304.

50.  Vermeulen, F. (2008). Strategy Masterclass: On Leading Strategy. USA-UK: Prentice-Hall Wiley and Oxford University Press.

51.  Wanstreet, C. E., Stein, D. S., (2011). Gender and Collaborative Knowledge Building in an Online Community of Inquiry // Encyclopedia of Information Communication Technologies and Adult Education Integration. (Eds): Victor C. X. Wang (California State University - Long Beach, USA). – IGI Global. – P. 707-722.

52.  Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

53.  Yates, S. T. (2001). Gender, language and CMC for education // Learning and Instruction. –Vol.11. – P. 20-25.

54.  Zawacki‐Richter, O.,  Prümmer, Ch., (2010). Gender and collaboration patterns in distance education research Open Learning // The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning. – Vol.25. – N2. – P. 95-114.


Appendix N1


Table N1: List of Project Titles with Indication of Presenters’ Gender



Project Title with Web 2.0 Platform Service

Number of Females Presenters

Number of Males Presenters


Team-Working Skills (Ning Social Networking)




Leadership Skills (Wiki)




Interviewing Skills (Wiki)




Meeting Skills (Google Online Presentation)




Time-management Skills (Blog)




Negotiation Skills (Google Online Presentation)




Presentation Skills (Vcasmo Software Used to Prepare The Movie “How to present professionally  for Businesses)









Appendix N2


Table N2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration Online

(Students’ Questionnaire Data)



Pluses in collaboration online

Minuses in collaboration online


Possibility of cooperation, discussions, negotiations while working online; generation of more ideas, more proper delegation of activities, faster problem-solving, possibility to view subject from different standpoints; easier to make consensus, more certainty in every team-member, much more possibilities to listen, support, more solidarity, easier to find the proper information, acquire skills very quickly how to work in team, more coordination, accuracy, increase accuracy, coordination, responsibility, intensify the exchange of opinions.

It is more difficult to meet the project deadline, low understanding among team-members, lack of real leader, discrepancies in delegation of authority, poor logistics (no places for meetings and working in group), not everybody participates in project activities, it is difficult to distribute information properly among team-members; more responsibility for other team-members, differences in individual opinions, difficulties in project coordination and realization.


It is easier to gain goals by mutual efforts, share opinions, more solidarity, listen out for something, mutual decision-making, easier task-delegation, help each other easier and simpler, every opinion is easily expressed and heard by all team members; develop leadership and team-making skills greatly, reduce overload and tension to work in team; feedback, creativity, efficiency, solidarity, the ability to know the opinions of others, two heads are better than one, ability to concede, easier to reach compromise, interesting jolly, it is real fun, collective discussion helps to eliminate errors, develop skills to communicate, more ideas generated in team, acquire more knowledge and information, it is possible to show you as a leader, leadership skills development; it is chance to listen to the others, brain-storming, promote cooperation and communication greatly, brilliant networking

Logistics problems, misunderstanding, low coordination in project development, difficulties in task-delegation, poor time-management; it is difficult to motivate the other team-members, lose of individuality, duplication of information, more active team-members oppress weaker members, passive behaviour of other team members, lack of compromises, consensus, it is difficult to make a mutual decision, it is difficult to select the idea from a great varieties of other persons’ ideas, one person does everything the other one does nothing, low responsibility by other team-members, personal relationships, discrepancies in opinions, low motivation, possible conflicts provoked by differences in opinions and approaches, etc.