Wenger and Engstrom Opening Session Videos at NLC2010

The videos of the opening session with Etienne Wenger and Yrjo Engestrom from the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning are now available on the conference website.

wenger and engstrom

The video is in 2 parts – Part 1 and Part 2. It will be nice to review what happened, or otherwise see it for the first time for those colleagues who were not able to attend.

What do you think about them and their work?

Networked Learning Conference Take-Aways

Almost a week has passed since the 7th International Networked Learning Conference, and I find that I am beginning to make sense and process my experience. There are 3 items I have so far been able to process:

  1. There is a lot of research still to be done in the area of (virtual / digital) identity development and how that relates to communties of practice, which is something I will continue to explore as I approach my doctoral research proposal. The paper I presented, Autoethnographer Communities of Practice, is here until they make it available on the website, and I am planning to take some of the comments I received, as well as what I learned, and continue to develop these ideas.
  2. The area of Networked Learning is still under development, which is clear from Grainne Conole’s work in the Hot Seat before the event (her white paper is here), as well as her ongoing work and comments through the conference.  She quoted Goodyear, Banks, Hodgson & McConnell (2004) for a working definition of Networked Learning — learning in which ICT is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners; between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources. As this is somewhat different than a traditional educational technology or learning technology program / usage (at least in the US), and as it is the focus of my eTEL program at Lancaster University, I see a tremendous amount of research opportunities here. These connections flow naturally with Wenger‘s work in Communities of Practice, and with my interests in making sense of our experiences, I see a lot of work and exploration ahead.
  3. Part of this networked learning involves working with the network of researchers and learners, and maintaining some of the wonderful connections I have made is the next tangible step I plan to do.

What a great conference. Interesting that I have not found anything like this in the US; glad I realized at this point in my studies and research that there is an entire world or scholarship on practice out there, and as networks have no borders, neither should I.

Pictures from Networked Learning 2010 NLC2010

I uploaded all the pictures I took while traveling through Munich, Copenhagen, and Aalborg for the Networked Learning Conference 2010 NLC2010. Each set of pictures is in its own Flickr set, and you can see them by clicking the city names above.

Jeffrey Keefer and Etienne Wenger

The tag nlc2010 can be searched on Flickr and Twitter as well by clicking on the names.

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.

Who’s Taming Who?

Terrie Lynn Thompson discussed her paper, Who’s taming who? Tensions between people and technologies in cyberspace communities. She used Actor Network Theory (ANT) for her work, especially through the work of Latour and John Law. Networked include people, objects, ideas, and practices. From this perspective, she studied numerous participants, such as people, blogs, and even the delete button. She interviewed these objects in her study, both human as well as  non-human. I am not entirely clear how she did this (how do you interview a delete button?), though she mentioned this is basically another paper out there and from what I understand, actor network theory is quite complex and not easily explainable to the newbie.

This presentation is clear that I need to read more about actor network theory, as many of the specifics were lost on me (that very same newbie). Terrie seemed quite animated and confident in her work, and this leads me to believe that this research may not be available to a novice (me), without an extensive background in this area.

Small world; Terrie was in one of my presentations on critical human resource development (HRD) several years ago at another conference. Yes, very small world.