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This paper deploys notions of emergence, connections, and designs for learning to conceptualize high school students’ interactions when using online social media as a learning environment. It makes links to chaos and complexity theories and to fractal patterns as it reports on a part of the first author’s action research study, conducted while she was a teacher working in an Australian public high school and completing her PhD. The study investigates the use of a Ning online social network as a learning environment shared by seven classes, and it examines students’ reactions and online activity while using a range of social media and Web 2.0 tools. The authors use Graham Nuthall’s (2007) “lens on learning” to explore the social processes and culture of this shared online classroom. The paper uses his extensive body of research and analyses of classroom learning processes to conceptualize and analyze data throughout the action research cycle. It discusses the pedagogical implications that arise from the use of social media and, in so doing, challenges traditional models of teaching and learning.
A linear, sequential time conception based on in-person meetings and pedagogical activities is not enough for those who practice and hope to enhance contemporary education, particularly where online interactions are concerned. In this article, we propose a new model for understanding time in pedagogical contexts. Conceptual parts of the model will be employed as a “cultural technology” to help us relate to evolving phenomena, both physical and virtual. We label these constructs as pointillist, cyclical, and overlapping times. Pointillist time and learning takes place in “dots” of actions that consist of small, discrete moments (e.g., tweeting). Producing, receiving, and sharing ideas in this context are separate points in each actor’s timeline. Cyclical time and learning emerges from intensive periods, which are highly visible in online forums. This construct reveals itself through interactions that often exist in multiple online environments. Overlapping time and learning involves various configurations of linear, pointillist, and cyclical layers, which are mainly evident through the simultaneous uses of social communication technologies. Pointillist, cyclical, and overlapping time constructs enable new orientations for conceptualizing time in pedagogy. In this article we also introduce de-, re-, and en- modes of these pedagogies that connect with approaches to meet the needs of learners for individualization, personalization, and cyborgization.
Emergent learning describes learning that occurs when participants interact and distribute knowledge, where learning is self-directed, and where the learning destination of the participants is largely unpredictable (Williams, Karousou, & Mackness, 2011). These notions of learning arise from the topologies of social networks and can be applied to the learning that occurs in educational institutions. However, the question remains whether institutional frameworks can accommodate the opposing notion of “cooperative systems” (Shirky, 2005), systems that facilitate the creation of user-generated content, particularly as first-year education cohorts are novice groups in the sense of not yet having developed university-level knowledge. This paper theorizes an emergent learning assessment item (Flickr photo-narratives) within a first-year media arts undergraduate education course. It challenges the conventional models of student–lecturer interaction by outlining a methodology of teaching for emergence that will facilitate student-directed and open-ended learning. The paper applies a matrix with four parameters (teacher-directed content/student-directed content; non-interactive learning task/interactive learning framework). This matrix is used as a conceptual space within which to investigate how a learning task might be constructed to afford the best opportunities for emergent learning. It explores the strategies that interactive artists utilize for participant engagement (particularly the relationship between the artist and the audience in the creation of interactive artworks) and suggests how these strategies might be applied to emergent generative outcomes with first-year education students. We build upon Williams et al.’s framework of emergent learning, where “content will not be delivered to learners but co-constructed with them” (De Freitas & Conole, as cited in Williams et al., 2011, p. 40), and the notion that in constructing emergent learning environments “considerable effort is required to ensure an effective balance between openness and constraint” (Williams et al., 2011, p. 39). We assert that for a learning event within a Web 2.0 environment to be considered emergent, not only does there need to be an effective balance between teacher-directed content and student-directed content for knowledge to be open, creative, and distributed by learners (Williams et al., 2011), but there also need to be multiple opportunities for interaction and communication between students within the system and that these “drive the emergence of structures that are more complex than the mere parts of that system” (Sommerer & Mignonneau, 2002, p. 161).
This paper builds upon a foundational paper (under review) which explores the rudiments of the quantum perspective of learning. The quantum perspective of learning uses the principles of exchange theory or borrowed theory from the field of quantum holism pioneered by quantum physicist David Bohm (1971, 1973) to understand learning in a new way. Bohm proposes that everything exists as wholes, rather than as parts, and that everything is connected. Similarly, the quantum perspective of learning proposes that individuals learn in holistic ways as they interact with temporal and in infinitely extending virtual worlds. Further, according to the quantum perspective of learning, learners have infinite potential. In this paper, the quantum perspective of learning is examined utilizing a combination of Schunk’s (1991) and Ertmer and Newby’s (1993) definitive questions for aligning learning theory with instructional design. These seven definitive questions focus on how learning happens, influential factors in learning, the role of memory, transfer of knowledge, modalities of learning that can best explain the quantum perspective of learning, applicable assumptions, and a discussion of how instruction can be organized to optimize learning. Examples of strategies that facilitate the quantum perspective of learning are provided.
This paper examines how emergent technologies could influence the design of learning environments. It will pay particular attention to the roles of educators and learners in creating networked learning experiences on massive open online courses (MOOCs). The research shows that it is possible to move from a pedagogy of abundance to a pedagogy that supports human beings in their learning through the active creation of resources and learning places by both learners and course facilitators. This pedagogy is based on the building of connections, collaborations, and the exchange of resources between people, the building of a community of learners, and the harnessing of information flows on networks. This resonates with the notion of emergent learning as learning in which actors and system co-evolve within a MOOC and where the level of presence of actors on the MOOC influences learning outcomes.
In this paper, we look at how the massive open online course (MOOC) format developed by connectivist researchers and enthusiasts can help analyze the complexity, emergence, and chaos at work in the field of education today. We do this through the prism of a MobiMOOC, a six-week course focusing on mLearning that ran from April to May 2011. MobiMOOC embraced the core MOOC components of self-organization, connectedness, openness, complexity, and the resulting chaos, and, as such, serves as an interesting paradigm for new educational orders that are currently emerging in the field. We discuss the nature of participation in MobiMOOC, the use of mobile technology and social media, and how these factors contributed to a chaotic learning environment with emerging phenomena. These emerging phenomena resulted in a transformative educational paradigm.