The article explores the complementary connections between communities of practice and the ways in which individuals orchestrate their engagement with others to further their professional learning. It does so by reporting on part of a research project conducted in New Zealand on teachers’ online professional learning in a university graduate diploma program on ICT education. Evolving from social constructivist pedagogy for online professional development, the research describes how teachers create their own networks of practice as they blend online and offline interactions with fellow learners and workplace colleagues. Teachers’ perspectives of their professional learning activities challenge the way universities design formal online learning communities and highlight the potential for networked learning in the zones and intersections between professional practice and study. The article extends the concepts of Lave and Wenger’s (1991) communities of practice social theory of learning by considering the role participants play in determining their engagement and connections in and across boundaries between online learning communities and professional practice. It provides insights into the applicability of connectivist concepts for developing online pedagogies to promote socially networked learning and emphasising the role of the learner in defining their learning pathways.
Self-directed learning on open online networks is now a possibility as communication and resources can be combined to create learning environments. But is it really? There are some challenges that might prevent learners from having a quality learning experience. This paper raises questions on levels of learner autonomy, presence, and critical literacies required in active connectivist learning.
This paper describes emergent learning and situates it within learning networks and systems and the broader learning ecology of Web 2.0. It describes the nature of emergence and emergent learning and the conditions that enable emergent, self-organised learning to occur and to flourish. Specifically, it explores whether emergent learning can be validated and self-correcting and whether it is possible to link or integrate emergent and prescribed learning. It draws on complexity theory, communities of practice, and the notion of connectivism to develop some of the foundations for an analytic framework, for enabling and managing emergent learning and networks in which agents and systems co-evolve. It then examines specific cases of learning to test and further develop the analytic framework. The paper argues that although social networking media increase the potential range and scope for emergent learning exponentially, considerable effort is required to ensure an effective balance between openness and constraint. It is possible to manage the relationship between prescriptive and emergent learning, both of which need to be part of an integrated learning ecology.
This paper describes a learning experience called EduCamp, which was launched by the Ministry of Education of Colombia in 2007, based on emerging concepts such as e-Learning 2.0, connectivism, and personal learning environments. An EduCamp proposes an unstructured collective learning experience, which intends to make palpable the possibilities of social software tools in learning and interaction processes while demonstrating face-to-face organizational forms that reflect social networked learning ideas. The experience opens new perspectives for the design of technology training workshops and for the development of lifelong learning experiences.
This paper defines and examines three generations of distance education pedagogy. Unlike earlier classifications of distance education based on the technology used, this analysis focuses on the pedagogy that defines the learning experiences encapsulated in the learning design. The three generations of cognitive-behaviourist, social constructivist, and connectivist pedagogy are examined, using the familiar community of inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) with its focus on social, cognitive, and teaching presences. Although this typology of pedagogies could also be usefully applied to campus-based education, the need for and practice of openness and explicitness in distance education content and process makes the work especially relevant to distance education designers, teachers, and developers. The article concludes that high-quality distance education exploits all three generations as determined by the learning content, context, and learning expectations.
The sociotechnical context for learning and education is dynamic and makes great demands on those trying to seize the opportunities presented by emerging technologies. The goal of this paper is to explore certain theories for our plans and actions in technology-enabled learning. Although presented as a successor to previous learning theories, connectivism alone is insufficient to inform learning and its support by technology in an internetworked world. However, because of its presence in massive open online courses (MOOCs), connectivism is influential in the practice of those who take these courses and who wish to apply it in teaching and learning. Thus connectivism is perceived as relevant by its practitioners but as lacking in rigour by its critics. Five scenarios of change are presented with frameworks of different theories to explore the variety of approaches educators can take in the contexts for change and their associated research/evaluation. I argue that the choice of which theories to use depends on the scope and purposes of the intervention, the funding available to resource the research/evaluation, and the experience and philosophical stances of the researchers/practitioners.
This paper describes a new social networking site, Cloudworks, which has been developed to enable discussion and sharing of learning and teaching ideas/designs and to promote reflective academic practice. The site aims to foster new forms of social and participatory practices (peer critiquing, sharing, user-generated content, aggregation, and personalisation) within an educational context. One of the key challenges in the development of the site has been to understand the user interactions and the changing patterns of user behaviour as it evolves. The paper explores the extent to which four frameworks that have been used in researching networked learning contexts can provide insights into the patterns of user behaviour that we see in Cloudworks. The paper considers this within the current debate about the new types of interactions, networking, and community being observed as users adapt to and appropriate new technologies.
Connectivism offers a theory of learning for the digital age that is usually understood as contrasting with traditional behaviourist, cognitivist, and constructivist approaches. This article will provide an original and significant development of this theory through arguing and demonstrating how it can benefit from social constructivist perspectives and a focus on dialogue. Similarly, I argue that we need to ask whether networked social media is, essentially, a new landscape for dialogue and therefore should be conceived and investigated based on this premise, through considering dialogue as the primary means to develop and exploit connections for learning. A key lever in this argument is the increasingly important requirement for greater criticality on the Internet in relation to our assessment and development of connections with people and resources. The open, participative, and social web actually requires a greater emphasis on higher order cognitive and social competencies that are realised predominantly through dialogue and discourse. Or, as Siemens (2005) implies, in his call to rethink the fundamental precepts of learning, we need to shift our focus to promoting core evaluative skills for flexible learning that will, for example, allow us to actuate the knowledge we need at the point that we need it. A corollary of this is the need to reorient educational experiences to ensure that we develop in our learners the ability “to think, reason, and analyse.” In considering how we can achieve these aims this article will review the principles of connectivism from a dialogue perspective; propose some social constructivist approaches, based on dialectic and dialogic dimensions of dialogue, which can act as levers in realising connectivist learning dialogue; demonstrate how dialogue games can link the discussed theories to the design and performance of networked dialogue processes; and consider the broader implications of this work for designing and delivering sociotechnical learning.
Connectivism is receiving acknowledgement as a fresh way of conceptualising learning in the digital age. Thus, as a relatively new instructional framework, it is imperative that research on its applicability and effectiveness in a variety of educational contexts is advanced. In particular, a high premium should be placed on context-specific research that is aimed not only at developing general principles but also at improving practice in local settings. Thus, developmental research approaches become imperative and as such it becomes increasingly necessary to have models that would assist scholars to understand the learning ecologies of connectivism. This paper therefore proposes a research framework for connectivism that integrates approaches commonly used in online learning environments. The paper integrates the theories of online communities of practice, design-based research, and activity theory to construct a research framework that is characterised by a synergistic relationship between them. It demonstrates the viability of the model by using an example of how it was operationalised in one research project. The framework, whose potential strength derives from integrating already established theoretical constructs, is presented as a proposal with the intention that it will be critiqued, tried, and improved upon where necessary and ultimately become part of the menu of other tools that serve connectivism research.
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