Examining the Dynamics of Networked E-learning Groups and Communities.

McConnell, D (2005) Examining the Dynamics of Networked E-learning Groups and Communities. Studies in Higher Education, 30 (1). pp. 25-42. ISSN 0307-5079

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The organisation of students into groups (or communities) for learning purposes is an established pedagogic method in higher education. Teachers are now using group methods in networked e-learning contexts, albeit without a full understanding of the dynamics of group work in these settings. This is a new and evolving arena in higher education. In this article, the learning dynamics of three collaborative, networked e-learning groups are examined in an attempt to understand how students work in them. A detailed ethnography indicates that two of the groups worked harmoniously, and successfully produced a collective end product. The other group exhibited extreme anxiety and division, and required extra resources from its members in order to sustain itself and produce its collective end product. Anxiety became a major focus for this group, which had the effect of diverting it from effective collective production. The ethnography shows that the place of identity, control, ontological security and guilt in collaborative e-learning groups can be central to the effective work of the groups. The difference between the groups with respect to these categories is used as a point of departure in order to show how an understanding of the dynamics of networked learning groups and communities may be of benefit to teachers and students working in these new environments.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Studies in Higher Education
Additional Information:
This paper is published in an international journal and was reviewed by two expert referees. It examines the ways in which groups of online learners work together in small-scale problem based learning contexts. Innovative e-research methods were used to collect online data. The paper seeks to show that by examining real-life situations where online learners are required to cooperate in groups, we can begin to develop an authentic understanding of the dynamics of learning in these new contexts. The lives of three online groups are examined in order to show how the groups develop, how they organise themselves, plan their collaborative work, carry it out and produce an end product as part of their course assessment. The role of the tutor in all of this is considered, with some critical comments made about the influence of the tutor in online collaborative learning. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Education
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Deposited On:
06 Mar 2008 14:20
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 00:19