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June 2004. Learning Communities & Social Computing: Tools & Techniques for Fostering Collaborative Learning. NMC Summer Conference, Vancouver. Soren Kaplan, Ph.D. ( Learning Objectives. Identify and describe different types of collaborative learning groups and communities

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June 2004

Learning Communities & Social Computing:

Tools & Techniques for Fostering Collaborative Learning

NMC Summer Conference, Vancouver

Soren Kaplan, Ph.D. (

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Identify and describe different types of collaborative learning groups and communities
  • Apply the principles of learning communities and collaborative learning to your institution
  • Obtain practical models, tools and approaches for designing learning communities
a little survey
A Little Survey
  • How many of you can’t compose documents anymore using long-hand?
  • How many of you don’t go to meetings any more without your laptop/PDA?
  • How many of you have turned your “remembering” over to a technology object (phone numbers, meetings, etc.)

From Vicki Suter, NLII

a little survey cont
A Little Survey, cont.
  • How many of you are “constantly connected” (the Internet is always on, whether you are at home or at work; your cell phone is always with you)?
  • What are the most IM/chat windows have you had open at any one time?

From Vicki Suter, NLII

a little survey cont1
A Little Survey, cont.
  • How many of you actively participate in an online community?
  • How many of you are a member of an online community but don’t participate?
  • How many of you facilitate “online communities” – via instruction or technology support?
learning and knowledge
Learning and Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge



Explicit Knowledge

  • How things really get done
  • Difficult to capture, codify and deliver through discrete learning objects and traditional training
  • Can be captured and formalized via Learning Communities
  • Books & tutorials
  • Facts, procedures, processes, guidelines
  • Formal instruction and training

Source: Peter Henschel, “Understanding and Winning the Never-Ending Search for Talent,” 2001

a skewed emphasis








Learning Objects


A Skewed Emphasis
nlii s deeper learning principles
NLII’s Deeper Learning Principles
  • Requires ownership
  • Encourages engagement
  • Is a social process
  • Is contextual or situated
  • Is an active process

From Deeper Learning Principles, developed by NLII 2002 Fellows Carmean/Haefner

learning communities collaborative learning
Learning Communities & Collaborative Learning
  • Learning communities bridge content and context by encouraging focused social interactions that elicit new knowledge and that connect learning to practical experience and action.
potential applications
Potential Applications???
  • Instruction (a course)
  • Faculty Development (training & support, professional development, etc.)
  • Centers of Excellence
  • Organizational change processes
  • Cross-Institution learning/research
pair team exercise
Pair Team Exercise
  • Share a story about a time when you experienced or you saw others experience true “collaborative learning” – an interaction that elevated the learning process to new levels through insightful collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • What enabled this to occur?
  • Each pair team member shares for 3 minutes. Identify enablers across both stories.
science education literacy center
Science Education & Literacy Center
  • The goals of the community are to:
    • Reduced turnover in the field
    • Create greater satisfaction with the Center’s programs
    • Establish stronger and more productive relationships between teachers and across the stakeholder community
continuum of life long teacher learning
Continuum of Life-long Teacher Learning






Rider’s Community Model

  • Rider SELECT-VLC’s model for Online Professional Community involves three components:
    • Shared virtual space
    • Professional Interactions
    • Sense of Belonging
community participants
Community Participants
  • K-8 teachers
  • Pre-service teachers
  • Education Faculty (Rider, Princeton)
  • Science Faculty
  • School Administrators
  • Parents, community members

Case Western Reserve University

Global Research Project – Business as an Agent of World Benefit

bawb research focus
BAWB Research Focus
  • Business has become… the most powerful institution on the planet. The dominant institution in any society needs to take responsibility for the whole. Every decision that is made, every action taken has to be viewed in the light of, in the context of, that kind of responsibility… Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation.

Willis Harmon


Former President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences




collaborative learning architecture
Collaborative Learning Architecture

Technical Architecture

“Social Architecture”

Group Processes

Synchronous & Asynchronous

technical architecture
Technical Architecture
  • NLII and iCohere have developed “functional requirements” for virtual communities that include:
social architecture
Social Architecture
  • Establish and facilitate collaborative environments that:
    • Build on formal knowledge
    • Connect content to “context”
    • Enable dialogue
    • Foster mentoring
    • Surface “best practices”
    • Move tacit knowledge to formal learning
10 steps to community
10 Steps to Community

1. Articulate a cohesive purpose

2. Define compelling benefits at the individual, group, and organizational levels

3. Identify technical constraints and enablers

4. Create a technology roadmap that links short-term objectives to long term goals

5. Define a roll-out strategy that starts with the core and expands outward

10 steps to community1
10 Steps to Community

6. Establish roles and processes that support both structured and organic collaboration

7. Use events to drive participation

8. Keep content fresh

9. Recognize exemplary members and encourage those who are less active

10. Build feedback loops for continuous learning and adaptation