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‘E-Learning and e-communities- asymmetries and dilemmas’ Mike Hart Professor of Business and Informatics University College Winchester Winchester, UK Roz Graham Senior Lecturer in Marketing University College Winchester Winchester, UK Hampshire, England.

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e learning and e communities asymmetries and dilemmas

‘E-Learning and e-communities- asymmetries and dilemmas’

Mike Hart Professor of Business and InformaticsUniversity College WinchesterWinchester, UK

Roz GrahamSenior Lecturer in MarketingUniversity College WinchesterWinchester, UK


Hampshire, England.

[Winchester is the ancient capital of Anglo-Saxon England]

Winchester Cathedral

King Alfred’s statue

emergent problems with e learning modes of learning
Emergent problems with e-learning modes of learning

Despite meta-analysis of 300 studies which shows no significant differences between traditional and distributed learning approaches …

  • Massification of higher education (4% [1961] 40%[2004] 50%[2010] )
  • The ‘electronic shovel’ encourages uncritical trawling of the ‘superficial’ rather than the deep web
  • Plagiarism almost certainly on the increase(Dordoy’s 2002 survey shows over 70% students and staff regard copying of paragraphs uncited to be ‘common’)
  • Suggested solutions demand new approaches to assessment (e.g. suggestion that original contributions be written in ‘green ink’)
communities of practice engage in e learning
Communities of practice engage in e-learning

Case study – Cascading Style Sheets Bulletin Board

It is evident from an examination of the dialogues involved that:

  • E-Learning is taking place (‘the wool has been lifted from my eyes’)
  • Discussants appreciated the new knowledge because as experienced web-designers they could see the potential and applicability of new techniques
  • certain amount of instruction and practical help is evident
  • there is evidence of some reflection (‘now I come to think about it..’)
characteristics of e learning in communities of practice
Characteristics of e-learning in communities of practice

We can induce certain characteristics of communities of practice (from the case-study)

  • Active participants will become learners
  • Some observers (but not participants) will learn in either: a positive fashion (good practice to be followed)a negative fashion (bad practice to be avoided)
  • Some observers will not be learners
  • The ‘silent learner’ is interesting. Non-participating observers may belearning nothing (because they cannot follow the discussion) or

learning a great deal (but this is not being manifested)

modes of learning and participation
Modes of learning and participation

Non-participating Observers/Learners

Observing non-learners

Participant Learners

Non-Participant non-learners

can we measures the processes of e learning
Can we measures the processes of e-learning?

It is conventional to measure educational attainment by the demonstration of learning outcomes BUT

  • Do we need to concentrate upon processes of learning as well as outcomes?
  • How do we capture process apart from crude measures of participation (e.g. log-ons, contributions to a message board)
  • Exact boundary lines between the non-participating observers/learners and the observing non-learners needs exploration(active v. passive learning, deep v. surface learning)
  • The case study indicates that much more vibrant learning may well be taking place
    • Outside the normal academic community
    • When assessment and certification are no longer salient issues
how do communities of practice foster e learning
How do communities of practice foster e-learning?

Communities of practice are social groups in which the ‘normal’ social dynamics of groups apply i.e.

  • A sharing of some common values and beliefs
  • Group norms are enforced by a graduated series of sanctions
  • A norm of reciprocity is needed in the long run
  • As in studies of the scientific community (Hagstrom, 1965), it isinteresting to observe the processes in which information is proffered in exchange for recognition i.e.motivation and rewards are symbolic rather than pecuniary
  • How does e-learning take place across group boundaries (varying degrees of participation)
action learning and the e community
Action learning and the e-community
  • Initially we examined traditional v e-learning modes of learning in the undergraduate community who may well use learning in a highly instrumental way
  • However mature students often display a manifestly different pattern and display excellent patterns of collaboration
  • Past experiences of group members helps participants to learn and apply new insights
action learning and the education work interface
Action learning and the education/work interface
  • Action learning has been most prominent in the Corporate Virtual University (CVU)
  • Universities have needed to confront (painfully!) their re-conceptualisation of what constitutes academic attainment
  • The nature of the e-learning experience requires emphasising for:
    • Post-graduate
    • Part-time
    • Work-experience

modes of education

  • We might note the importance of techniques such as learning logs and diaries of reflective practice

Two broad conclusions are:

  • E-Learning might have greater salience outside rather than inside the undergraduate programmes in higher education institutions
  • E-Learning activities are much more likely to bear fruit outside the comventional 18+ intakes into higher education

And so…

  • Is the rapid introduction of VLEs more a strategy to cope with problems of massification rather than the development of a new pedagogy?
  • Is there a way in which we can extend the characteristics exhibited by communities of practice into the undergraduate curriculum?
and finally
And finally….

Any questions?