TEL Communities

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


In this column are accounts of a number of key studies.  These include both international and UK studies and there is also a list of additional literature likely to be of interest to the readers of the guide.  The key studies inform the thinking behind this MESH guide in a variety of ways, both specific and general. The additional studies also have the potential to do this and will be of interest to guide readers too. In addition literature will continue to move on as the guide is published.  This is not a disadvantage to the reader as what is contained here is a stimulus to reflection and to action.

Bringing together themes from the works described is complex.  The article about Chinese teachers highlights how both the cultural  context and the learning context are influential factors in the success of teacher communities of practice.  Amongst other things the Australian study is informative in its clarity of the value of blended learning, with respondents being very explicit about the value of face to face contact alongside other technologically facilitated elements.  The multi-author study of how teachers use technology to support effective teaching and learning reminds the reader of the facilitative nature of technology in the learning environment, which links well to the SAMR model. What technology allows us to do is the important aspect of this article and others, reminding the reader that the devices are only that, and teaching and learning are supported by technology - using technology is not an end in itself.  An article about 21st Century skills (in the next column) also maintains that the technology is not an end in itself and a strong theme in the conclusion is the importance of appropriate pedagogy. This is the focus of the next column of the MESH guide.

Some key findings:
- Current models that underpin the education system are not communicative and learner centric, but instrumental and organization-centric.  This however is not static and there exists the potential to create more open, creative and participatory learning experiences, through a diversity of technologically supported means (Luckin et al., 2010)

- Research on active learner-centred approaches affirm that unless teaching strategies change, learning does not change, even when technology is used to support delivery.  (McKnight et al, 2016)

- Education students reported the combination of face to face sessions with online study and communication with peers supported their learning.

- A community interface which remains ‘human’ and fosters collaborative relationships is critical to a pedagogy of CoP learning (Garner and Rouse, 2016)

- Beneficial interaction in a community depends on teachers' active interaction with content and with others.

- Active reflection on the meaning of posts and comments is a precursor to participation, and involves multiple, reciprocal and iterative processes of knowledge creation (Zhang et al., 2017)

- A new model of teacher learning in an online network is developed to display teacher learning as an iterative, multistep process that is socially constructed, distributed, and situated in the contexts in which teachers work.

- Online communities and networks provide ongoing, self-directed, bottom-up learning experiences for teachers. (Trust, 2016)

- A life cycle for a learning community can be recognised which grows towards high levels of engagement and contributes to the generation of new knowledge among the participants (Koohang et al., 2016)

Garner, R. and Rouse, E., 2016. Social presence–connecting pre-service teachers as learners using a blended learning model. Student Success, 7(1), pp.25-36.

Koohang, A, Paliszkiewicz, J, Goluchowski, J, & Horn Nord, J.  (2016) Active Learning for Knowledge Construction in E-learning: a replication study.  Journal of Computer

Information Systems, Vol 56, Issue 3 pp 238-243.

Luckin, R., Clark, W., Garnett, F., Whitworth, A., Akass, J., Cook, J., Day, P., Ecclesfield, N., Hamilton, T. and Robertson, J., 2010. Learner-generated contexts: A framework to support the effective. Web 2.0-Based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, p.70.

McKnight, K., O'Malley, K., Ruzic, R., Horsley, M.K., Franey, J.J. and Bassett, K., 2016. Teaching in a digital age: How educators use technology to improve student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48(3), pp.194-211.

Trust, T., 2016. New Model of Teacher Learning in an Online Network. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48(4), pp.290-305.

Zhang, S, Liu, Q, Chen, W, Wang, Q and Huang, Z.  (2017) Interactive networks and social knowledge construction behavioral patterns in primary school teachers' online collaborative learning activities, Computers and Education, Vol 104, pp 1-17.