Networked Learning Conference 2010 Closing Plenary

The closing session at the Networked Learning Conference 2010 comprised of many of the facilitators of the Hot Seat sessions in the front of the room, summarizing the pre-conference discussions.

As per some of our panelists (Charalambos Vrasidas, Caroline Haythornthwaite, Etienne Wenger, Grainne Conole), some of the learning that has occurred and the issues raised include:

  • is technology required for networked learning?
  • what are some of the issues of access and equity regarding these technologies?
  • what are some of the differences between networks and social networks?
  • to what extent can networks serve as reflective practice?
  • how can social network analysis be used as a method of analysis to develop social network theories?
  • networks can be across organizations, serious leisure (e.g., home brewing, cooking), across disciplines, alumni networks?
  • synergies with other fields, such as Internet Research field
  • learning is an opportunity to be knocked out of balance, as that allows us to see things differently and shake one out of complacency
  • knowledge / practice fair — where each community can have a booth and then show what each is doing. This is an opportunity to have different communities rub together as different networks
  • brokering between and across boundaries has an insight into networks and going between communities
  • When one is networking, there is very light brokering. When it is heavy networking, then it is more toward multimembership that creates a bridge between networks
  • There are new ways of understanding virtual vs. F2F relationships
  • Language is one of the key challenges
  • Theoretical frameworks in networked learning seem to primarily include communities of practice, actor network theory, and activity theory
  • We may want to expand upon the theoretical frameworks, as there are many more we can use
  • We should tighten the theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and then clearly link them to practice
  • The relationship  between theory and practice should be made stronger
  • Policy debates are happening, though we need to be present to where this debate can be followed and interacted
  • Cloudworks can be used as a liveblogging platform, and the Twitter streams are being tracked and will be archived on the website

Some facilitated discussions (thank you, Maarten de Laat) then happened with questions from the participants, with the majority of it happening around issues of policy and how policy can fit with practice.

David McConnell then began discussing a holistic view of what networked learning is, and how we understand and use the concept of network learning. What are the educational values we can bring back to networked learning. Is there anything distinctive to networked learning that makes it difference from technology enhanced learning or from eLearning? Perhaps these fundamentals need to be reflected upon again–I agree completely with this, as in many ways there seem to be great differences between these, there also seems to be differences as well, namely to include how the learning happens in a way of networks.

Chris Jones spoke about the movement from practice to praxis, so there is an ethical dimensions we bring to bear to the practice we bring to our work. This comment then ended the discussions with a quick  applause.

Nice ending for this conference, and now we can look forward to the next conference in two years.  It was mentioned that there will be a book that comes out of this conference, tentatively titled Exploring the theory, pedagogy and practce of networked learning.