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The Space Occupied by Networked Learning in the Higher Education Curriculum: Revisiting the Networked Learning Manifesto
Symposium Organisers: Vivien Hodgson, Lancaster University,
At Networked Learning 2002 following an ESRC seminar series a group of us presented a manifesto entitled: Working towards E-Quality in Networked e-Learning in Higher Education: A Manifesto Statement for Debate. (Sheffield 2002). The manifesto was and is a rhetorical document – such is the nature of manifestos. The intention of this symposium is to explore the theoretical and empirical substance of the claims therein and to consider their currency eight years on.
Since 2002 there has been a great deal of development both in technological and pedagogical innovation and in the integration between the two. We feel it is timely to review the Manifesto to look at what might be missing and to consider what new issues have emerged and how the field of NL has developed.
One of the intentions of the Manifesto was to claim a space for radical pedagogies within technology supported and on-line learning. The Manifesto’s focus on learning communities, the social and interactive aspects of learning and the significance of technology for the co-construction of knowledge was an initial attempt to do this. It succeeded in capturing some of the emergent ideas of the pedagogical potential considered of critical importance today.
The Manifesto covered five key themes :–
The symposium plan is to address each of these themes at the conference and then run an online seminar post conference to discuss further the issues and questions raised during the symposium session. At the symposium we will present a set of related papers comprising an introductory overview paper, which will discuss themes 1 and 5, and three thematic papers looking in depth at aspects of themes 2, 3 and 4.
Paper 2; Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Networked Learning
Paper 3; Re-Conceptualising the Boundaries of Networked Learning:
The shifting relationship between learners and teachers
To this end, this paper focuses on a core set of boundary definitions, central to the way networked learning is conceptualised and experienced. The paper revisits the concept of expertise within learning and argues for a new understanding of the role of expertise defined by transient boundaries. Expertise becoming a quality that moves between members of learning networks, dependent upon time, activity and focus. The consequences of this for professional development are explored.
Paper 4; Student Led Network Learning Design.
A framework for learning in the 21st Century
The purpose of this paper is to re-introduce the E-quality in Networked
Learning Manifesto that was presented at the Networked Learning 2002 conference
by the E-Quality Network and to reflect on its current applicability and
meaning for networked learning. The paper will focus specifically on two
of the five themes of the Manifesto; the working definition of networked
(e)-learning and the need for a networked (e) - learning policy. In the
paper we argue that the time is right to simply use the term networked
learning and drop the ‘e’ in networked e-learning. This is
because we think it is more important to foreground connectivity as a
specific and important pedagogical feature of networked learning. We claim
that an updated definition of networked learning should not only refer
to being a pedagogy based on connectivity and the co-production of knowledge
but also one that aspires to support e-quality of opportunity and include
reference to the importance of relational dialogue and critical reflexivity
in all of this.
Vivien Hodgson, Michael Reynolds
The focus of our paper is on Theme 2 of the Networked Learning Manifesto which focused on Learning Teaching and Assessment and stated as follows:
Networked e-learning as envisaged in this manifesto requires models of learning that are based on participation and not ones that are based on transmission.
This requires as much emphasis on learning processes and learning to learn as on subject knowledge.
Educational values which contribute to quality in learning and teaching environments are those that seek to encourage dialogue, exchange of ideas, intrinsic approaches to study and engagement. It is this that we need to support through networked e-learning.
Networked e-learning provides the opportunity for developing innovative assessment practices in which teachers and learners collaborate in the assessment process.
Networked e-learning is not a depersonalising experience. The careful integration of course design and innovative assessment can create as intimate an educational experience as a face-to-face encounter.
In this paper we look at these statements in more detail in terms of what the ideas behind each of them were and the meaning and relevance of some of the key ideas to the current theory and practice of networked learning. Our approach is to review current thinking sufficiently to highlight issues which the manifesto raises and in addition, to examine these issues from the perspective of an empirical research study of networked learning practice. We have summarised key issues in the final section of the paper as questions which we hope might provide criteria for evaluating how the principles incorporated in the manifesto are reflected in current networked learning theory and in practice. The questions we suggest are:
Re-Conceptualising the Boundaries of Networked Learning: The shifting relationship between learners and teachers
Networked learning has the potential to change the perceptions and practice
of those engaged in learning within both networked and traditional environments.
At the heart of such change is the nature of the relationship between
learners and teachers as their roles and responsibilities are transformed.
Recognising this, the E-Quality in e-Learning Manifesto (2002) proposed
key aspirations for this relationship, identifying a model based on collaboration
and co-construction of knowledge. This model was seen to be supported
by the concept of the learning community and to have implications for
the professional development of H.E. practitioners. We argue that the
ideas contained within the Manifesto can be advanced to fully capture
the shifting roles and relationships inherent within networked learning.
To this end, this paper focuses on a core set of boundary definitions,
central to the way networked learning is conceptualised and experienced.
Firstly, we revisit the concept of expertise within learning. While we
agree that the expert-acolyte dichotomy is no longer pursuant within networked
learning, we argue for a new understanding of the role of expertise defined
by transient boundaries. Expertise becomes a quality that moves between
members of learning networks, dependent upon time, activity and focus.
This raises questions for the traditional boundaries drawn between teachers
and learners. If we begin to view teachers as fellow learners in a communal
process, we must consider how such learning communities are to be defined.
A partial answer lies in the dialogue and communication that connects
network members, yet this potentially ignores the relevance of content
within networked learning. As such, the boundaries between content and
communication are considered and found to be less defined that previously
presented. The communication that distinguishes networked learning communities
forms the basis of the content members both utilise and collaboratively
create. Finally, the implications of these boundary discussions for the
professional development of H.E. practitioners are addressed. We note
the significant challenges faced in preparing practitioners for their
changing role, especially in relation to how they re-conceptualise their
place in the learning process and the professional values they associate
with it. Finally, we argue for the use of networked communities of professional
practice as the means to support the development of diverse H.E. practitioners.
Paul Brett, Glynis Cousin
In this paper we argue that technology and modes of learning work together, the one dynamically influencing the other. In a number of ways, the medium is the pedagogy. We see this as an important point which contradicts a popular notion among education developers that pedagogy must lead the technology. In particular, we argue for the need to be apace with the ways in which the present generation of students are constituted as learners through technology. We urge an acknowledgement of the distinctiveness of this generation accordingly. In particular, we propose that the technical expertise and the novel modes of learning which are characteristic of this generation offer radical possibilities for network learning. In making this proposal, we suggest a reconfiguration of technical support and curriculum design in order to foreground students’ expertise with technology and to acknowledge its constitutive role in their formation as learners.
The reconfiguration we propose is that we make three, 180 degree changes to the power axes of e-learning as it is currently offered, namely: (i) the choice and development of whatever technologies are used to support the varied, serendipitous, and as yet unpredicted and unpredictable rich potentials of e-learning can be made by learners; (ii) this choice can be from common, freely available, student understood technologies which are in the public domain and (iii) the creation of network learning can be done by students in partnership with academics. We report below on our current action research which explores whether the reconfigurations we propose will strengthen the network learning manifesto aspirations to soften the power of teachers and to position students as co-producers of knowledge.