DEHub/Research Themes/Interaction and communication in learning communities

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Research themes
1. Theories and models
2. Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects
3. Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
4. Professional Development & Faculty Support
5. Learner support and development approaches
6. Curriculum design
7. Interaction and communication in learning communities
8. Distance teaching systems and institutions)
9. Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer
10. Quality assurance
11. Innovation and change
12. Costs and benefits
13. Management and organization
14. Educational technology
15. Learner characteristics
16. Open Education Resources (OERs)

Interaction and communication in learning communities

Investigations under this topic area are closely associated with those of learning design. Research will examine design that fosters engagement through articulation, interaction, reflection and collaboration throughout the teaching and learning process. Special interest areas include the development of online communities, gender differences and cross-cultural aspects of online communication.

Guiding question

What is the role of digital tools in promoting and creating online- communities for life-long and life-wide learning opportunities? (eg. Wiki’s, websites, facebook, LMS etc).

Research questions

  • How important is teacher-student and student-student interaction in the distance education process and in what form(s) can this interaction most effectively take place?
  • What is the capacity of social software (eg: Web 2.0 and mobile devices) to foster social interaction and to support flexible learning?
  • How do you form communities of learners online?
  • How can online social networking technologies create communities of knowledge producers?
  • Are there learning communities that are not higher education institutional related? Do they accredit participants? How are they organised and managed? What impact do they have on life-long learning?
  • How are student learning communities fostered by higher education institutions?
  • How does the use of communication technologies in distance learning impact on the social networks in isolated communities? Does this extend the community and reduce feelings of isolation, and thus promote more healthy environments?

Highly Recommended Priority Links


Lifelong Learning & Distance Higher Education, 2005, Christopher McIntosh, Editor and Zeynep Varoglu, Editorial Coordinator. This book is form the Commonwealth of Learning series PERSPECTIVES ON DISTANCE EDUCATION. The full text of the book is available in pdf.

The present book focuses on the area of distance higher education, with an emphasis on the lifelong learner, bearing in mind the increasing need for international co-operation and for co-ordinated policies in areas ranging from quality assurance to funding and appropriate use of ICTs.

The contents list of contributing authors is a "Whos Who" of distance education. Topic Lifelong Learning for Equity and Social Cohesion: A New Challenge for Higher Education, The Impact of ICT on Lifelong Learning, Approaches to Funding, Lifelong learning in the African context: A practical example from Senegal, The Chinese Approach, Quality Assurance Survey of Mega Universities, The Higher Education Open and Distance Learning Knowledge Base, The Finnish Virtual University and Finland’s Path to a Learning Society, Promoting Cross-Border Recognition and Mobility Developments in the Netherlands, Charting the Evolution of Lifelong Learning and Distance Higher Education: The Role of Research.


The 23 ICDE World Conference THE DANCE OF TECHNOLOGY AND PEDAGOGY IN SELF-PACED DISTANCE EDUCATION (25),Parallel Sessions, Monday 8 June 2009, by Terry Anderson. You will have to scroll through the list of sessions to find the link. This will provide a Word version of the paper.

In this century self-paced instruction challenges both seat-based lectures and predominate group and cohort based models of distance education. Though disruptive to these older models it promises a model of education that maximizes individual freedoms and choice, supports participative course designs and thus is a an appropriate new dance for the networked era.

Research Online (University of Wollongong)

New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile learning in higher education 2009, 138p. By Jan Herrington, Anthony Herrington, Jessica Mantei, Ian Olney and Brian Ferry (editors). The 13 chapers to this book are:

  1. Introduction: Using mobile technologies to develop new ways of teaching and learning
  2. Professional development: Faculty development for new technologies: Putting mobile learning in the hands of the teachers
  3. Adult education: Using a smartphone to create digital teaching episodes as resources in adult education
  4. Early childhood education: Digital story telling using iPods
  5. Environmental education: Using mobile phones to enhance teacher learning in environmental education
  6. Information technology education: Incorporating mobile technologies within constructivist-based curriculum resources
  7. Language and literacy education: Using iPods to capture professional dialogue between early career teachers to enrich reflective practice
  8. Mathematics education: Role of mobile digital technology in fostering the construction of pedagogical and content knowledge of mathematics
  9. Physical education: Using iPods to enhance the teaching of games in physical education
  10. Reflective practice: Collaborative gathering, evaluating and communicating ‘wisdom’ using iPods
  11. Science education: Using mobile phone cameras to capture images for slowmations: Student-generated science animations
  12. Visual arts education: Art on the move: Mobility – a way of life
  13. Design principles: Design principles for mobile learning.

Pew Research Center

Wireless Internet Use This 2009 report, by the the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, on the use of wireless technologies in America highlights the rapid increase across the Ameriacan society in the last two years. This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research International between March 26 to April 19, 2009, among a sample of 2,253 adults, 18 and older.

International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET)

Learning and Teaching With E-Portfolios: Experiences in and Challenges for Adult Education, Vol 4, No 1 (2009) by Gerhard Bisovsky and Sandra Schaffert.

Based on short introduction into the e-portfolio method, this contribution focuses on experiences and challenges for adult education: For that, it describes best practice, current projects and initiatives in European adult and continuing education.

First Monday

The digital melting pot: Bridging the digital native-immigrant divide, Volume 14, Number 7 - 6 July 2009 by Sharon Stoerger.

Metaphors such as (digital native–digital immigrant)...are useful when having initial conversations about an emerging phenomenon, but over time, they become inaccurate and dangerous. Thus, this paper proposes a new metaphor, the digital melting pot, which supports the idea of integrating rather than segregating the natives and the immigrants.

Everyday life, online: U.S. college students’ use of the Internet, Volume 14, Number 10 - 5 October 2009, by Steve Jones, Camille Johnson-Yale, Sarah Millermaier, Francisco Seoane Perez.

The goal of this study was to learn about how college students are using the Internet and to compare their use of it to that of college students as reported in 2002 by replicating and extending previous research. A survey of college students at 40 U.S. higher education institutions was conducted, along with observations and interviews at several Midwestern universities.

Patterns of online behaviour in the United Kingdom and Japan: Insights based on asynchronous online conversations, Volume 14, Number 10 - 5 October 2009, by Milen Martchev.

Contrasts in Internet surfing patterns, information–gathering preferences, and references to video, audio, pictorial and sexual content are examined; post times are used to compare daily and weekly patterns of posting activity between the two countries. This study also provides an overview of the uses that N–grams have in natural language processing and argues for their analytical potential in sociolinguistic and CMC–related research.

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Online Learning Journals as an Instructional and Self-Assessment Tool for Epistemological Growth, V35(1) Winter, 2009.

This study looked at the instructional and assessment effects of using learning journals in three distance asynchronous computer conferencing courses (n=18, n=16, n=17). The instructor used a design-research methodology: each iteration of the course involved modifications to how learning journals were used based on analyses of the responses and results from the preceding course.


MLEs for Lifelong Learning: Building MLEs across HE and FE.

This JISC-funded programme is a step towards a longer-term strategic aim of student-centred information systems that facilitate the mobility of the lifelong learner in the form of an individual student portal that provides a single entry point to relevant learning and administrative resources.

The JISC's Learning in Immersive Worlds: a review of game based learning provides reports on Wireless and Mobile Learning, Potential Users of Wireless and Mobile Learning and Strategic Aspects of Wireless and Mobile Learning.

Any time, any place learning Multimedia learning with mobile phones a case study that outlines the use of O2 XDA 2s (camera phones with PDA functionality) where:

Tutors at City College Southampton found that the use of camera phones in conjunction with web publishing provides an effective and novel way of extending learners’ awareness of their locality at the same time as providing opportunities to develop their linguistic skills in real and meaningful ways.


Constituent and Discussion Groups provides access to a range of discussions groups including Teaching and learning groups for:

  • Blended and Online Learning (BLEND-ONLINE)
  • Handheld and Mobile Computing (HMC)
  • iTunes U (ITUNESU)
  • Instructional Technologies (INSTTECH)
  • Learning Space Design (LEARNINGSPACE)
  • Virtual Worlds (VW).

Virtual World Learning Spaces: Developing a Second Life Operating Room Simulation, EDUCAUSE Quarterly Magazine, Volume 32, Number 1, 2009, by Stephanie Gerald and David M. Antonacci. The authors argue that replicating the real world in a virtual space misses the potential of an alternative approach:

...his real-world approach to virtual world learning space brings with it similar constraints on the types of teaching and learning that can happen in those spaces. For example, large lecture halls, whether in the real world or the virtual world, are based on objectivist transmissive teaching; once built, such spaces do little to support more collaborative and constructivist learning approaches.

The EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges.

The Top Teaching and Learning Challenges project is a new community effort to surface and synthesize trends in higher education. Roll your mouse over the project elements to learn more about each phase of this innovative process.

Learning Technologies. This site provides access to current topics on M-learning and Mobility, Emerging Technologies and Practices as well as the 7 Things You Should Know About... series.

The term learning technologies encompasses information and instructional technology, as well as telecommunications tools, applications, and systems that support learning. The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) explores the possible benefits and challenges of individual learning technologies, but also considers the potential impact their integration may have on advancing teaching and learning.

The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2009 . This study

is a longitudinal extension of the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 studies. It is based on quantitative data from a spring 2009 survey of 30,616 freshmen and seniors at 103 four-year institutions and students at 12 two-year institutions; student focus groups that included input from 62 students at 4 institutions; and review of qualitative data from written responses to open-ended questions. In addition to studying student ownership, experience, behaviors, preferences, and skills with respect to information technologies, the 2009 study also includes a special focus on student ownership and use of Internet-capable handheld devices.

Other sites to explore

Language Learning & Technology(LLT)

Emerging Technologies Focusing on Form: Tools and Strategies by Robert Godwin-Jones, February 2009, Volume 13, Number 1, pp. 5-12. The author presents an argument for the expansion of Intelligent Language Tutors (ILTs) in providing individualised feedback to specific tasks in language learning. A the author states:

Recent trends in intelligent language tutors (ILT) are quite promising, despite the multiple challenges of natural language processing (NLP). Having over-promised and underachieved in the past, developers of ILT (also known as ICALL, intelligent CALL, or parser-based CALL) have mostly narrowed their ambitions and scope, resulting in actually deployed systems rather than just research prototypes. Advances in collecting and processing language corpora have helped in that process. At the same time, Web developments offer new approaches to exercise design and distribution.

TED (Technlogy, Entertainment and Design)

Richard Baraniuk on open-source learning, a 2009 video on TED. Richard Baraniuk is founder of Connexions, a free, open-source, global clearinghouse of course materials. People in some 200 countries tap into its vast store of texts on everything from engineering to ornithology to music, adapting the content as they see fit.

e-learning & distance education resources

Reports and articles on e-portfolios for learning. The site is managed by Tony Bates and provides reports and articles on e-portfolios. Additional pages are available on many topics to do with online and distance education. A site well worth the effort to browse.

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Special issue on electronic portfolios, V34(3) Fall, 2008. Eight articles dedicated to electronic portfolios.

The contributing authors each present complex discussions of the challenges and successes that they have encountered in working with EPs that can provide readers an overview of important issues to consider when introducing EPs into any classroom or ongoing professional development project.


[ Learning Ecology, Communities, and Networks Extending the classroom} George Siemens 2003 article that maps out the needs of Learner-centered, lifelong learning.

George Siemens Articles & Resources page covers a range of relevant topics for this research area.

FrontlineSMS Project is the first text messaging system created exclusively with this problem in mind.

By leveraging basic tools already available to most NGOs — computers and mobile phones — FrontlineSMS enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale. It’s easy to implement, simple to operate, and best of all, the software is free. You just pay for the messages you send in the normal way.


More related sites can be found at the DE Hub Delicious site.

Alan Wylie 06:11, 4 November 2009 (UTC)