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Definitions: Theoretical background relevant to technology facilitated social learning
Research evidence: Systematic literature reviews on the theme of technology facilitated social learning

Social learning within the TWT MOOC

According to social constructivism, influenced by Vygotsky's (1978) work, knowledge is constructed in a social context where meaning is made through interactions with each other. The social elements of the hybrid MOOC enabled the practical elements and the discussions about these (the social element) to converge, a point Vygotsky claimed is significant in the course of intellectual development. Through practical activities, learners constructed meaning on an intra-personal level, while the discussions in G+ and Twitter connected this meaning with the interpersonal world shared by the learners and their culture. Context was also important; learners were using new skills in their familiar contexts and adapting them to relevant subject areas. As a result, the learning became authentic, directly relevant to their own classroom practice and the culture within it (Brown et al. 1989).

Furthermore, the MOOC allowed for dynamic interaction between tasks, instructors and participants (learners). Instructors (Moderators) on the MOOC took on the role of facilitators, asking questions, supporting and continuing the interactions. They were also involved as learners, learning from the participants (Holt and Willard-Holt 2000).

Our hybrid MOOC included virtual versions of the face to face elements via Google Hangouts and Twitter Chats. This built trust. From Lave and Wenger (1991) onwards, socialisation among members has been emphasised as an important and defining factor in the procedure of building a Community of Practice. Numerous commentators have stressed the importance of face-to-face communication in a virtual CoP; even in the modern distributed environment with a wide range of communications media (Kimble et al. 2001).  


Brown, J.S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Holt, D. G.; Willard-Holt, C. (2000). "Lets get real – students solving authentic corporate problems". Phi Delta Kappan 82 (3).

Kimble, C., Hildreth, P. & Wright, P. (2001). Communities of Practice: Going Virtual. In Y. Malhotra (Ed.) Knowledge management and business innovation, Hershey, PA: Idea Group (220-234)

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Further background - More about rhizomatic learning: