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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’ 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 Despite meta-analysis of 300 studies which shows no significant differences between traditional and distributed learning approaches … • Massification of higher education (4%  40% 50% ) • 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 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 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 Non-participating Observers/Learners Observing non-learners Participant Learners Non-Participant non-learners
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? 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 • 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 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
Conclusions 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…. Any questions?