IATEL motivation: Learning networks offline and online Bearbeiten

We are interested in learning networks - online AND offline Bearbeiten

"Learning Networks are groups of people who use the internet and web to communicate and collaborate in order to build and share knowledge." (Harasim, 1998)

In our opinion, this definition takes a too narrow view. Learning networks must not be virtual. They also exist in offline situations. Also other people from our network agree with us, e.g. Graham Atwell:

  • [28.01.2009 16:03:16] mo : would you say this definition ist ok?
  • [28.01.2009 16:03:34] Graham Attwell : is fine expcet I odnt see why should be limited to internet
  • [28.01.2009 16:03:42] Graham Attwell : could be people who meet face to face
  • [28.01.2009 16:04:05] mo : ok, this is my opinion too

In our opinion, the following definition is more adequate considering also offline networks: "Learning Networks are groups of people who use the web in autonomous and self-determined ways and/or meet face to face to communicate and collaborate in order to build and share knowledge."

We live in learning networks - online AND offline Bearbeiten

We do not just work on learning networks theoretically - we live them in research and teaching. This is a reason why we want to participate: We want to present the methods we use in our daily work and discuss them with the other experts at the conference.

Example 1: Maschendraht-Community Bearbeiten

Christian's course on computer science education in the winter terms 2008/09 experienced the effects of working in a learning network offline and online. The course was held in the "learning through teaching" manner, and the students collaborated with others in the net. For example, they created lesson plans for learning through teaching in computer science classes in wikiversity and cooperated with Nils, a trainee teacher, in Bonn. In addition, they made a film about "learning through teaching" in Jean-Pol Martin's French course - accompanied by Lutz Berger, a multimedia professional, whose attention was caught by the students' web activities. The students were highly motivated and created an online community, the Maschendraht-Community, to foster the creation of learning networks among teachers, lecturers, students, coaches, and other people interested in learning with the Web 2.0. By now the community grew to 146 members. As additional product of the course Christian has founded an online community for people interested in learning through teaching, the LdL Community. Mo participates in these learning networks and communities. There he learned about some pedagogical concepts which he will implement in his seminars.

Example 2: Open Science Bearbeiten

We use the Web 2.0 to make our scientific work open and transparent - not only the products (like data or publications) but also the process of scientific knowledge creation. For example, Christian has a public lab notebook where he writes about his scientific activities. He also discusses his philosophy of teaching with students online.

In addition, we prepare presentations in wikis and ask others to comment there before, during, and after the presentation. We try to catch the attention of others and to ask them for participation using twitter, weblogs, and online communities.

A best practice for process-oriented open scientists is: 1) Create networks around you. 2) Work in the web (using wikis, weblogs, ...). 3) Stimulate your networks by referencing the sites where you are working and asking others to participate (i.e. in twitter). The text you are reading is one example of this approach: We write the text online and we ask others to participate via twitter.

Example 3: BarCamp Participation Bearbeiten

We both appreciate the open atmospheres and the inspiring discussions in BarCamps like the EduCamp. People participating in BarCamps are connected via networks on different levels: First, they have very open workshop discussions which can be seen as offline instantiations of the "neuron metaphor". Second, they share their ideas in the workshop rooms and between the rooms using twitter. And third, they are also connected in the time between two barcamps via online tools like weblogs and twitter. We think that BarCamps are a prototypical example for how building and sharing knowledge can be done using offline and online networks.

We experienced it many times that BarCamps lead to the construction of new communities or new knowledge. For example, the network Neuron! which connects people interested in the "neuron metaphor" has been initiated in the context of the first EduCamp. Another example is the cooperation between Christian, Mo and Tim Schmidt from the University of Osnabrück: We had a session about the educational usage of weblogs. Afterwards we dediced to write a paper about our results. This paper was presented at the DeLFI conference in 2008 (Akbari, Schmidt & Spannagel, 2008).

We think about learning networks in the future: Marrying online networks AND offline worlds Bearbeiten

Integration of mobile learning networks in formal learning settings Bearbeiten

Usually in closed scenarios of the universities private social networks of students do not matter. This means that in addition to the learning management systems of universities the students form their own networks, because cooperation and exchange with friends and fellow students are functionalities which are appreciated by students. The social dimension of a service supports the work in academic studies. There are other Social Networks than that often mentioned mySpace, facebook, studivz etc. where students participate to discuss problems within their field of study or exchange learning material. and are platforms which takes these aspects of student learning into account. The platforms were founded in years 2000 and 2005 by students from RWTH Aachen and operated since by themselves. Here you can download and upload lecture videos produced by the students themselves, lecture notes and protocols of (oral) exams. has nearly 6000 active and registered users ( "Statistics - MaschBoard - The engineering Forum at the RWTH Aachen"). This number corresponds to the number of Mechanical Engineering students at the RWTH Aachen (heblerHebler GmbH & Cologne, 2008). Recently a forum and a blog were added to Besides the websites mentioned there are other similar services provided by students for students on the world wide web. These examples show that there is a need for systems which support cooperative work between students in a way that they can build their own learning networks.

This assumption and the forecast that in the next 10 years more people visit the Internet on mobile devices than on PCs lets Mo develop a mobile online community with social structures which will support the individual learners. The development of mobile services and applications is currently at its beginning (Seider, Lafferty & Lee, 2008). "Mobile access to the Web may become the dominant mode in many nations [...]" (Shneiderman 2007). Attractive applications, specifically in terms of e-learning 2.0, however, are still pending. "Working to develop the mobile Internet as an extension of the PC-based Internet requires the development of services that can be smoothly integrated with application mobile devices .." (Seider, Lafferty & Lee, 2008)

Mobile services enable pupils and students to create, share, and exchange microcontent at any time. Their community may also include teachers. Learners should have the opportunity to access their learning network at any time and any place. This supports the motivation and organization of learning. "Therefore, in this 'new paradigm', the e-learning course does not offer much as a 'virtual space'(virtual campus, virtual classroom), but a space for communication between students, peers and tutors. And so, it offers students and professors resources to help them to improve their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE). "(Bartolomé, 2008) So the access to educational resources could be a component of leisure activities and so fully be integrated in the students' life.

We think that using mobile devices fosters the integration of online networks into offline lifes, because people can access their online networks in a greater variety of offline situations.

Literature Bearbeiten

  • Akbari, M., Schmidt, T. & Spannagel, C. (2008). Ein Planungsraster zum Einsatz von Weblogs in der Lehre. In U. Lucke, M. C. Kindsmüller, S. Fischer, M. Herczeg & S. Seehusen (Hrsg.), Workshop Proceedings der Tagungen Mensch & Computer 2008, DeLFI 2008 und Cognitive Design 2008 (S. 305-310). Berlin: Logos. [1]
  • Bartolomé, A (2008). Web 2.0 and New Learning Paradigms. eLearning Papers No 8. []
  • Harasim, Linda Marie; Hiltz, Starr Roxanne; Teles Lucio; Turoff Murray (1998): Learning networks. A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online. 4. print. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • heblerHebler GmbH, & Köln. RWTH Aachen - Fakultät für Maschinenwesen: Ein kurzer Überblick über die Geschichte der Fakultät. Retrieved August 04, 2008, from [2].
  • Seider, C., Lafferty, S., & Lee, S. (2008). Go mobile, grow …: Should mobile Internet services be the next big groth gamble for mobile device makers? Somers, NY: IBM Institute for Business Value. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from [3].
  • Shneiderman, B. (2007). Web science: a provocative invitation to computer science. Commun. ACM, 50(6), 25-27.
  • Spannagel, C. (2007). Eine Weblog-Umgebung zur Förderung selbstbestimmt motivierten Lernens. In C. Rensing & G. Rößling (Hrsg.), Proceedings der Pre-Conference Workshops der 5. e-Learning Fachtagung Informatik DeLFI 2007, Siegen, September 2007 (S. 11-18). Berlin: Logos. [4]