Research about online communities

PLENK2010 – the course program has ended and many people are pondering about their participation and learning. What happened and why? and why not? I liked the presentation Vahid Masrour gave in our Moodle General Forum: the Participation Spiral. There are stairways to confidence and trust, many excellent questions in this presentation.

Vahid also spoke about about categorizing online participation; consumer, interactor and producer are the main categories – more in this link. The Social Technographics’ Ladder are suitable in many contexts I suppose. Producers can be creators or elite – so we have hierarchies in open web world 🙂  I like Vahid’s spiral more than this hierarchy.

Then I remembered this presentation in Networked Learning congress in Denmark last May: Who is taming who? Tensions between people and technologies in cyberspace communities, written by Terrie Lynn Thompson, Alberta University, Canada. I refer only one part of the presentation:

The participants in the study include: postings; avatars; tool bars; emoticons; archives; community member profiles; the search term in Google that takes you to the cyber location; viruses; hyperlinks; the delete button; passwords; the technology that delivers postings such as e-mail, discussion forum, or RSS feed.

Human actants included: “newbies”, “wannabes”, colleagues, “big names”, celebrities, competitors, posers, lurkers, employment recruiters, clients, friends, strangers, and the online paparazzi.

We have mentioned newbies, lurkers and  friends. Colleagues mean co-learners or participants in open courses like PLENK. We have member profiles in Moodle and some of us have avatars in the Second Life. Some people have mentioned spam or viruses. What else? Are we blind to some factors?

I just listened to the last Friday Session about Critical perspectives or Modeling Learner Autonomy. Sebastian Fiedler’s model about Adult Learner, Rita Kop’s Model of learning in PLE and Stephen Downes’s Roles of educator in PLE world. Fiedler resembles action theory Engeström developed in Finland in 1980’s (international roots in the Soviet Union, Leontjew), Rita Kop knows experiental learning and combines it to new technologies, I like that model. I did not catch the excellence of Stephen’s presentation. Of course learners can produce the concepts, so we did in teacher education all the time. But the raw material is only a beginning, it is not interesting as such. So what, I let it be.

Learner autonomy and online participation spiral and who is taming who – please give me a summary about these.

Learning theories in teacher education

Learning theories have been a part of my life always, many decades. This week I have a good opportunity to find my thoughts and questions about learning. I decided to write step by step: first I checked my last work place’s presentation about learning theories. This  picture has been collaborated in the University of Applied Sciences, Teacher Education, in Jyväskylä, Finland.

learningThe purpose of teacher education is to help student to build up -or find – their own teachership. They have to know all learning theories in order to choose those which work best for their purposes.  The picture illustrates the pedagogy in teacher education: it does not give ready-made answers but gathers frames for decision making.

The image was copied from the page “approaches to learning”. You can find other assigments and materials in the web pages, they are open learning objects. This is the way I am used to think: every theory gives something to teaching practice. I cannot say that behaviouristic theories are old because they seem to work very well. Feedback and reinforcement are essential factors in everyday life, even in internet. Perhaps serendipity is an example of random reinforcement: you try again if you succeed only sometimes. I read tweets which I follow and hope some day to get insights 🙂

Piaget was a remarkable researcher many decades. His research is older than constructivism, I think, so Piaget is called a cognitivist. Engeström belonged to this line at the beginning, he wrote a book in Finnish Perustietoa opetuksesta which had large influences in practice. It was a scientific book that could be read and was interesting. Piaget was very conscious about the near mutual dependence between emotion and cognition, he was a real scientist.

Constructivism and experiental paradigms were the most important in teacher education. Kolb tried to gather all about learning and I loved his book Experiental Learning but it was only in English and not easy to read. Experience as the source of all learning  and the orientations: reflection, conceptualization, experimentation as a spiral. It was something, it helped to understand and interpret learning happenings.

You can find same theories in this link given for week 4: learning theories and models in web.

Reflective practice was one of our main concepts, Schön and Argyris helped to explore it. Practice was the criteria for theory, theory-in-use must become recognized. Teach as you preach. Then became research about expertise in 1990’ies we had good connections with researchers. Oh, those were the days.. I cannot tell everything shortly.

I am not sure if this belong to PLENK2010 but I give that tag anyway. Next I will write my own history since studying psychology and working in the department of psychology. One post I have to gather the newest discussions about learning. And what else?

Yrjö Engeström meets Etienne Wenger

Networked Learning Conference 2010 published a video about the keyspeakers opening session. It was gorgious to listen at home and reflect through earlier experiences. I didn’t know that Yrjö and Etienne have met in San Diego in 1987-88 – they have a long history of disagreements but they appreciate each other. Yrjö was a marxist then (and still is, he said) and Etienne is an anthropologist. They give a short lecture about their basic concepts and a fishbowl discussion follows. I recommend listening to those videos.

Another enthusiastic event was to join a new ning community, ELESIG for elearning researchers. Thanks to Jenny Mackness for telling about that. I was very disappointed because Elluminate gave me no audio today when there was a meeting. The recording was available very soon and now, after listening to it, I’m happy and wise 🙂 .

And I have many articles to read from the NLC2010 conference and Elesig members. It’s nice to live and learn..