Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Networked Learning

Leigh Blackall presents a new view of learning that is critical, open, networked and participatory through his research.  In a recent twitter stream and blog post he is asks for collective and open deliberation for a definition of networked learning.  As a participant involved in networked learning research and praxis I will offer the following as an entry into the collective imaging and deliberation.

Definitions


Open: Learning is free from institutions or understood to be actively participating in non-institutional learning.

Critical: learning does no harm or actively works for social, economic, and environmental sustainability and resilience.

Participatory: learning is integrative and inclusive of participants regardless of skill level or pre-determined social hierarchy.

Networked: learning happens in a blended mesh. Learners, pedagogues, and others are nodes that exchange information to different degrees, depths and forms both online and in the field.

The best defense of these definitions I have found is presented here by Steven Downes:



Image above: Watts and Strogatz model/small world network graph, credit: Arpad Horvath

2 comments:

  1. Steven is still too far toward the tech me. If networked learning is wider in scope than that which technology mediates, then the examples in his slides could be far wider. I better reference to Downes might be his Groups vs Networks, where he pulls back from technological examples and metaphors, and talks about networks in slightly more abstract and general terms. Illich's Learning Webs is the best definition I've found. 1971.. relatively free from the blinding tech eccentricity we have today. Soon after Illich, Christopher Alexander and co published A Pattern Language, in which that support Illich's definition with practical steps in town planning that encourages networked learning (page 99).

    Your definitions are a useful reflection for me. I realise now why I think an updated definition for networked learning is needed (one that challenges the UK academe). To be in a position to network learning, you need to be open minded - meaning we don't just look to institutions for opportunities to learn, your whole environment is a space for learning; willing to participate - meaning we get involved, introduce ourselves, situate our learning rather than abstract it further, help out, get hands on; and of course critical - where we find ways to constructively question our surroundings and systems, our tools (especially recent technology), and actively get perspective with which to reflect on situations with... There are other things, such as creativity, freedoms, flexibility, and no doubt more...

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  2. Thomas Steele-MaleyJune 17, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Sorry for the tardy reply, Leigh. Your thoughts here re-enforce what I know of you, your thinking and lifeway. The Alexander reference is hugely helpful, do you know where an open version exists? Illich's learning webs exist in concert with most all of his work in my mind. The root remains that the structures humanity seeks to impose on itself are historic yes (10,000 years worth of hominid history), but are crumbling due to overshoot. How we see the patterns for our generation and participate in/design networks that enable social mutation is where I see our work.....paramount.

    Your points at:

    "To be in a position to network learning, you need to be open minded – meaning we don’t just look to institutions for opportunities to learn, your whole environment is a space for learning; willing to participate – meaning we get involved, introduce ourselves, situate our learning rather than abstract it further, ****help**** out, get hands on; and of course critical – where we find ways to ****constructively question our surroundings and systems, our tools (especially recent technology), and actively get perspective**** with which to reflect on situations with"

    are both rich and provocative. I look forward to working with you more

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