Collaborative Networked Learning: A Guide/Conclusion


A collaborative networked learning environment is one promising response to the learning demands of the new age of connectivity. In this new age of connectivity, the human value-added is in the ability to learn quickly and constantly in the face of rapid change. Consequently, in this guide I have focused on how to facilitate and support the learning process in an on-line collaborative networked environment. I have focused on key characteristics of communication which go beyond simple data and information transmission to the symbolic communication necessary for value-added learning to occur in today's workplace. Value-added learning involves both intra-personal and interpersonal communication processes. In this guide, I discussed facilitation within the framework of a group communication model. The model and knowledge shared in this report can serve as the basis for developing guidelines for facilitators of collaborative networked learning. It is important to focus on the following summary statements as guidelines: learners form concepts based on perceived similarities and differences among examples, e.g. data and information from the work environment, sufficiently rich data and information is available on-line from co-workers and external databases to aid learning and knowledge creation, socio-emotional messages can establish and maintain a context where members trust one another, mutual trust supports learning and encourages the personal risk taking necessary to share ideas, articulate tentative constructs, and test out hypotheses about the world, representational tools and strategies that facilitate intra-personal message formulation need to be available for on-line interpersonal communication in order for the learner to validate personal constructs. communication strategies and tools which facilitate interpersonal message sharing need also to create and provide access to a record of group messages, a group database, as an aid to memory and an additional source of examples for other learners from other networks, and communication norms and a messaging structure which elicit and process feedback from participants are necessary to validate learning in the real world. Finally, I highlighted key features of software that will support on-line collaborative learning, not as a substitute for effective human communication but as tools to enhance and augment human intelligence in the workplace. As a means of helping the reader visualize how learning might be supported, I sighted examples of the following categories of support tools: personal construct elicitation, personal information management tools such as hyperinformation and information management with intelligent linkages, and visualization and modeling tools to facilitate externalization of constructs. I also highlighted features of groupware which could be included as part of the on-line interpersonal communication learning support system. I discussed the following features: knowledge worker tools which help groups share ideas and compare conceptual linkages, context building features of groupware, sharing feedback and refining ideas such as voting and annotation and simultaneous sending and receiving of feedback, hyperinformation for group concept formation, and sharing personal constructs with others in a network. All of these features taken together help us visualize how to support learning in a collaborative networked environment. The knowledge about software support for intra-personal and group learning form the basis for design of present and future electronic learning environments. Together they begin to call attention to design features which could enhance and support learning.

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