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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


This column contains reports of a number of systematic literature reviews, which are varied in nature.  They range from a review of 145 papers about 1-1 computing devices to a review of Wenger’s thinking about communities of practice.  This range of reviews bring to bear a number of key issues in how technology can facilitate high quality social learning in online and blended environments within teacher education.  The notion of communities of practice sets the scene for this section.  

The review by Vrieling et al (2016) is a content analysis of 23 studies from which 4 dimensions of teacher social learning, among other notions, are identified.  They are practice, domain and value creation, collective identity and organisation. These are useful in considering group behaviour in relation to learning goals.

Enhancement of teaching and learning in teacher education through technologically supported learning is explored in the review by Kirkwood and Price (2014).  Based on 47 articles this review highlights potential benefits to learning in HE environments, making it particularly relevant to the present MESH guide.

The learning to teach review from the USA (Moore-Adams, 2016) looked at 26 studies and reports on the practices in use in technology enhanced learning.  It is highlighted that these practices are not sufficiently well researched and the hybrid teaching environment not well enough understood. The linking of pedagogy to technology enhanced practice is explored by Tondeur et al (2016).  This begins to bridge current thinking among teachers with technology available to them by reviewing 14 studies; they emphasise that teacher views of learning can be more confined and functional than expected.

Each of the studies selected has both positive points related to the topic and issues subject to debate.  Overall it is clear that much remains to be securely understood in relation to how technology and social learning play out in teacher education. Among those of particular interest are the importance of context to effectiveness, the role of the informed protagonist in supporting learners in online and blended environments and the criticality of social learning as a framework for success.