Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is a definition of networked learning?

A UK academic has been assisting with the editing of the Wikipedia entry for Networked Learning, and it looks as though we might disagree on a suitable definition. I take issue with a definition suggesting that networked learning is tied to ICTs.

The most stable definition of networked learning was developed by CSALT, a research group at Lancaster University, UK. Their definition states that networked learning is "learning in which information and communication technology is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources." [1]The central term in this definition is connections. The interactions this term points towards include human interactions with materials and resources, but interactions with materials alone are not sufficient and networked learning requires aspects of human-human interaction mediated through digital technologies. This definition takes a relational stance in which learning takes place both in relation to others and in relation to learning resources.[2]

I challenged the CSALT based definition when it first appeared back in August 2006, and tried to pen a more inclusive definition that didn't exclude methods of networked learning that weren't based on computing or computer networks. But Chris stands by the claim to an authoritative definition.  

The definition is in current use and it is one of the most widely referenced over the past 9 years. Opinions on the definition may vary but it should be represented as it is in circulation and supported by severla books and the conference series. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chris R. Jones (talk • contribs) 16:06, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

To be honest, this Wikipedia project is the first I've heard of CSALT, and I've not yet attempted to verify Chris' assertion to authority. My perspectives on a definition are shaped by reading Illich, Downes, Siemens and more recently Wenger (of course many others, but these names capture it), but I find it difficult to use such references to support a rewording of the definition, in the face of an academic institution. I'm wondering if anyone reading this might assist? Either in changing my mind, changing Chris', or helping us write an inclusive definition with all necessary citations.

No comments: