Blending Collaborative Online Learning with Workplace and Community Contexts

Blending Collaborative Online Learning with Workplace and Community Contexts

Peter J. Smith (Deakin University, Australia), Elizabeth Stacey (Deakin University, Australia) and Tak Shing Ha (University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-296-1.ch007
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The majority of research and literature in collaborative learning online has been focussed on groups of students organised into units of study by an educational institution. There are, however, large numbers of adult students for whom participation in institutionally controlled online collaborative learning occurs side by side with participation in situated learning contexts such as their work or their community. This chapter draws on research conducted by the authors with adult learners who participate in communities of practice and communities of learning in their own work or life contexts, and provides insights into how these outside-institution learning environments can be used in a more deliberate blending to enhance student learning experience.
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Although there has been considerable focus on blended learning in reasonably formal institutional settings, our interest here is in blended learning as an effective tool outside just the confines of institutional learning. Blended learning, usually defined as a mix of face-to-face instruction and learning experiences provided online (Graham, 2006) has, in the formal institutional setting, focussed largely on learning within the community established by the institution. Most commonly, that community comprises fellow students of that same institution and probably even of the same unit of study, and the relevant instructors. Our contention here is that this is a crucially important form of blended learning that is likely to become even more effective as social software sophistication increases, and the ways in which that software is used by students and their instructors similarly increases. However, our contention is also that, for adult learners out in the busy workplace, there are other communities that they use for learning that are as rich as those to be found in institutional settings. As Baldwin-Evans (2006, p.156) has observed, for adult learners in the workplace most learning ‘takes place informally outside the boxes on the organization chart’. It is the potential for drawing on the power of these informal learning communities that has interested us before (eg Stacey, Smith & Barty, 2004, Stacey, Barty & Smith, 2005). In this chapter we will explore this blending of the learning communities with workplace communities, and discuss the interaction that can occur as we extend our definition of blended learning to include this phenomenon.

The field of online learning has begun to be described increasingly by a range of commentators and researchers in terms of community as a way of explaining the cognitive and affective inter-relationships that students develop online. Researchers have explored the nature of online communities from Rheingold’s (1992)virtual community of people linked by the internet, computer mediation and shared interests to the more purposeful educational community of inquiry defined by Garrison and Anderson (2003) and re-purposed for blended learning by Garrison and Vaughan (2008). Within institutional settings, particularly in higher education, there has been a great deal of discussion focussing on learning communities (McLoughin 2001; Tu Corry 2001; Chapman, Ramondt, & Smiley 2005). In a context of distance education, computer mediated communication (CMC) has provided the capacity to develop a community of learning among groups of learners who are geographically or temporally distributed, and who would not otherwise have opportunity for the collaborative experience that is afforded online. These new types of online learning communities have begun to be researched extensively but discussions of virtual communities, communities of learners and communities of practice appear in the literature without always a common understanding of the parameters of these communities (Tiwana & Bush 2001; Brook & Oliver 2003).

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Robin Mason
Elizabeth Stacey, Philippa Gerbic
Chapter 1
Elizabeth Stacey, Philippa Gerbic
Blended learning is now part of the learning landscape in higher education, not just for campus-based courses but for courses designed for students... Sample PDF
Introduction to Blended Learning Practices
Chapter 2
Philippa Gerbic
Online discussions are now available as a pedagogical option in blended learning environments in universities. Much of the research to date has... Sample PDF
Including Online Discussions Within Campus-Based Students' Learning Environments
Chapter 3
Ruth Geer
This chapter describes an investigation of strategies for fostering higher order cognition in a blended learning environment. The exploration, which... Sample PDF
Strategies for Blended Approaches in Teacher Education
Chapter 4
Mary Simpson, Bill Anderson
A teacher education programme previously taught in distinct on-campus and distance forms was redesigned to take advantage of the affordances offered... Sample PDF
Redesigning Initial Teacher Education
Chapter 5
Ana A. Carvalho, Zdena Lustigova, Frantisek Lustig
This chapter describes two European projects that respond to blended learning by integrating innovative technologies into blended learning... Sample PDF
Integrating New Technologies into Blended Learning Environments
Chapter 6
Guglielmo Trentin, Steve Wheeler
This chapter provides a further two European perspectives on blended learning. The first section is an overview of the ways in which the concept of... Sample PDF
Teacher and Student Responses to Blended Environments
Chapter 7
Peter J. Smith, Elizabeth Stacey, Tak Shing Ha
The majority of research and literature in collaborative learning online has been focussed on groups of students organised into units of study by an... Sample PDF
Blending Collaborative Online Learning with Workplace and Community Contexts
Chapter 8
Terrie Lynn Thompson, Heather Kanuka
The growing need for professional development to help university instructors with the adoption of online teaching is being propelled from several... Sample PDF
Establishing Communities of Practice for Effective and Sustainable Professional Development for Blended Learning
Chapter 9
Julie Mackey
Blended learning is examined via the experiences of teachers participating in qualification-bearing online professional development courses while... Sample PDF
Virtual Learning and Real Communities: Online Professional Development for Teachers
Chapter 10
Suzanne Riverin
This chapter examines the use of blended learning in an online community which supported teacher professional development in the province of... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and Professional Development in the K-12 Sector
Chapter 11
Faye Wiesenberg, Elizabeth Stacey
This study explores the similarities and differences between Canadian and Australian university teachers’ face-to-face and online teaching... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and Teaching Philosophies: Implications for Practice
Chapter 12
Gayani Samarawickrema
This chapter focuses on the factors relating to adopting blended learning by teaching academics and the associated social world around technology... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and the New Pressures on the Academy: Individual, Political, and Policy Driven Motivators for Adoption
Chapter 13
Gail Wilson
This chapter draws on a collective case study of six faculty members working in ICT-enhanced blended learning environments at a large regional... Sample PDF
Case Studies of ICT-Enhanced Blended Learning and Implications for Professional Development
Chapter 14
Cathy Gunn, Adam Blake
An accredited course in Academic Practice aligns with university and national strategic goals related to teaching and learning enhancement within a... Sample PDF
Blending Technology into an Academic Practice Qualification for University Teachers
Chapter 15
M. Brooke Robertshaw, Heather Leary, Andrew Walker, Kristy Bloxham, Mimi Recker
For teachers in the 21st Century it has become critical that they develop the skills to be able to teach in a world that is being transformed by... Sample PDF
Reciprocal Mentoring "In The Wild": A Retrospective, Comparative Case Study of ICT Teacher Professional Development
Chapter 16
Conclusion  (pages 298-311)
Philippa Gerbic, Elizabeth Stacey
The conclusion draws together the main themes identified under the sections of the book with a synthesis of the recommendations presented by the... Sample PDF
About the Contributors