Learning in Networked Environments

Networked Learning Conference 2012 has published many research papers and I’ve been reading them. I used to refer here – in this blog – when someone publishes results about those open courses which I have participated. Now the researcher was Mohsen Saadatmand from University of Helsinki, Finland. Another writer is Kristiina Kumpulainen. They report preliminary findings from two courses, I remember the inquiry, it was nice to answer Mohsen’s questions. Their paper discusses the learning activities and experiences of the participants who are coming from different parts of the world to online networked environments and integrate various tools and digital application in the process of their learning and interactions.

The main research question for this paper is: what is the nature of learning in open and networked learning environments and what learning activities and experiences result from participating in these environments? The study adapted a virtual auto-ethnographic method which sounds very interesting. Perhaps it is something we all participants are using every day.

The study begins with reflection on socio-cultural theoretical frameworks such as social constructivism, communities of practice and connectivism, and a rhizomatic approach to learning in networks and communities (Cormier, 2008, Engestrom, 2007, Tella, 2000). In this part I had difficulties to follow because in my mind those three names have very little in common. Perhaps it is a list of different perspectives. The aim of the research  is to look at different emergent and multi-directional learning activities take place in the context of open environments and to explain how open-digital-networked technologies are used by participants of open online courses. Something was told about he latter questions, but emergent learning leaves open and waits for deeper analysis which will be published in the following part.  I am eagerly waiting for it!

It is better that you read the original publication, I cannot summarize it here. It is not easy to see what has been said in earlier researches and what is new, I cannot concentrate so well . This must be a step forwards I want to believe so. But learning itself seems to disappear always, it is challenging to grasp …


2 thoughts on “Learning in Networked Environments

  1. Hi Heli,
    Thanks for mentioning it here and take a look at my paper, reflecting on learning processes in MOOCs and providing your feedback. It is great to hear from you and participants of those courses that how do you reflect on on the interpretations of your experiences and learning activities.
    Actually, you are a good open learner and a good blogger too. I enjoy reading your blog and your reflections on learning and networking experiences.
    In this paper I was trying to elaborate somehow on how learning is taking place in open learning environments and what are the general experiences and perceptions of learning in such environments. It represents rather a more descriptive and general analysis of the data based on the first round of going through the data and explanations by the participants and my own experiences too. As you mentioned, emergent learning needs further and deeper analysis right, I totally agree and I am now in that process.
    As to the theoretical perspectives to the study and what I have build upon in the paper, you’re right that those three (Cormier, 2008, Engestrom, 2007, Tella, 2000) might not have so much in common. They are just some perspectives on the nature of learning in open and networked environments rather than closely related. Cormier (2008) refers to Tella’s (2000) explanations on activities in media education where he argues that ” world of media education consists an innumerable number of rhizomatic connections and learning in the rhizome characterizes global connectivity braining a lot of responsibility for organizing your own learning environment”. This makes a better sense now with regards to the exponential rate of emerging learning networks and communities as results of emerging technologies and particularly as to learning in MOOCs. Although Cormier is the one who talks more and develops ‘rhizomatic approach’ to learning and mainly referring to MOOCs but I think what Tella argues in his article provide the same understanding for learning in such environments. Engestrom (2007) in one article by referring to Deleuze and Guattari’s proposition of the concept of ‘rhizome’ and by elaborating on Wenger’s concept of ‘communities of practice’ tried to highlight the importance of horizontal and multidirectional connections in human lives, in contrast to the dominant vertical, tree-like images of hierarchy. He uses ‘mycorrhizae’ for the nature of connections and interaction in the communities and mentions that some examples of mycorrhizae-like activities at the moment are the Open Source communities. This is what we are experiencing in learning in such open environments like MOOCs.
    Perhaps, works of Tella and Engestrom and how do they think in this regard is less that somehow different from what Cormier defines of rhizomatic learning but they all provide theoretical bases for better understanding our learning activities and experiences in shadow of open source applications in the process of learning and what the role of learner is and how s/he takes control of all learning processes.
    I look forward for further discussion and elaboration on our learning experiences and networking encounters as happened in MOOCs and are happening….

  2. Thanks for commenting, Mohsen
    I have followed Engeström from the beginning (Learning by expanding 1987 – etc) but did not know he referred to Deleuze & Guattari. That as new to me. Or perhaps not. I had to translate mycorrhizae and I remembered that Engeström has dealt with symbiotic relations. I did not like it because in Psychology symbiosis has an exact meaning. This is problematic,

    we still have a lot to do in order to understand learning in open courses. Waiting for your next publications!

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