DEHub/Research Themes/Interaction and communication in learning communities project 1

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Commissioned Research
Curriculum design
Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
Globalisation of education
Interaction and communication in learning communities

Interaction and communication in learning communities

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).

Summary of narrative syntheses, meta-analyses, meta-evaluations, and best evidence syntheses that currently exist.

This area can be divided into two categories: (i) investigation into the creation of learning communities among university educators and teachers; and (ii) studies into the use of Web 2.0 tools for life-long learning outside the educational sector. Research into the first category is perhaps best approached through the broad literature produced by large-scale projects such as the Open Learning Design Initiative and iCamp (see Curriculum Design scoping document for references).

There is also a small, but rapidly growing body of literature relating to online communities and life-long learning for non-educators. Much of this research reflects the activities of European researchers linked to the ProLearn Network (itself part of iCamp). ProLearn has published a number of practical reports in this area including Klamma (2006), Kieslinger & Hofer (2007) and Klamma & Bachwerk (2008). Relevant short papers include Klamma, Chatti et al (2006) and Klamma, Chatti et al (2007), Klamma, Cao et al (2007) and Spaniel et al (2008).

Another relevant European project is TENCompetence (eg Kew, 2006, Marenzi 2008), which (amongst its other tasks) investigated the use of social software for life-long learning. The published and unpublished outputs from this project are too numerous to attempt even a partial listing: the TENCompetence collection at DSpace Open Universiteit Nederland consists of over 600 items.

There are also a handful of small-scale studies which attempt to review practice or theory in a particular area. These include Elliott (2007) and Stockdale (2008).

No overarching syntheses were identified.

Recommended keywords for searches

e-learning, Learning 2.0, learning community, life-long learning, life-wide learning, online community, online communities, online social networks, social media, social networking, social software, Web 2.0, higher education.

Recommended search databases

A+ Education, Emerald, ERIC, Google Scholar, SpringerLink, Wiley InterScience

Additional references and links

The DE Hub Interaction and communication in learning communities research theme page provides additional links to relevant material.


Elliott, C. (2007). Lifelong learning communities with Web 2.0. Synergy, 5 (2), 18‐21.

Kew, C. (2006) TENCompetence: Lifelong Learning and Competence Development. In W. Nejdl. & K. Tochtermann (Eds.), Proceedings of the First European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, Crete, Greece. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, 621-627.

Kieslinger, B. & Hofer, M. (2007) Case Study on Social Software in Distributed Working Environments. ProLearn Consortium.

Klamma, R. (2006) Social Software for Professional Learning: Examples and Research Issues. ProLearn Consortium.

Klamma, R., Chatti, M. A., Duval, E., Fiedler, S., Hummel, H., Hvannberg, E. T., Kaibel, A., Kieslinger, B., Kravcik, M., Law, E. (2006) Social Software for Professional Learning: Examples and Research Issues. In Proceedings of the 6th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies. Kerkrade, The Netherlands, July 2006. IEEE Computer Society: Washington, DC, 912-915.

Klamma, R., Chatti, M. A., Duval, E., Hummel, H., Hvannberg, E. H., Kravcik, M., Law, E., Naeve, A., & Scott, P. (2007). Social Software for Life-long Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10 (3), 72-83.

Klamma, R., Cao, Y. & Spaniol, M. (2007). Watching the blogosphere: Knowledge sharing in Web 2.0. In N. Nicolov, N. Glance, E. Adar, M. Hurst, M Liberman, J. H. Martin and F. Salvetti (Eds.): International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, Boulder, Colorado, USA, March 26-28, 2007, 105-112.

Klamma, R. & Bachwerk, M. (2008) Lessons Learnt on Social Software for Professional Learning. ProLearn Consortium.

Marenzi, I., Demidova, E., Nejdl, W., Olmedilla, D., & Zerr, S. (2008). Social Software for Lifelong Competence Development: Challenges and Infrastructure. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 3, 18-23.

Spaniol, M., Klamma, R. & Cao, Y. (2008) Learning as a Service: A Web-Based Learning Framework for Communities of Professionals on the Web 2.0. In H. Leung, F. Li, R. W. H. Lau, & Q. Li (Eds.) Advances in Web-Based Learning, Proceedings of ICWL 2007, Edinburgh, Scotland, August 15-17, 2007. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, 160-173.

Stockdale, R. (2008). Peer-to-peer online communities for people with chronic diseases: a conceptual framework. Journal of Systems and Information Technology, 10(1), 39-55.