Design Guidelines for Collaboration and Participation with Examples from the LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design)

Design Guidelines for Collaboration and Participation with Examples from the LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design)

Daniel Burgos (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands), Hans G.K. Hummel (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands), Colin Tattersall (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands), Francis Brouns (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands) and Rob Koper (Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch018
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This chapter presents some design guidelines for collaboration and participation in blended learning networks. As an exemplary network, we describe LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design), which was designed to promote learning and discussion about IMS-Learning Design. ‘Lessons learned’ from pilot implementations of this network over a period of five years are phrased as guidelines for future learning network implementations. The chapter focuses on the positive influence of incentive mechanisms and face-to-face meetings on active participation. These successful interventions are explained from theories about self-organization, social exchange, and social affordances. Repeated measurements show the levels of both passive (accessing and reading information) and active participation (posting, replying, and rating) to significantly increase as a result of both interventions. Both the use of incentive mechanisms and face-to-face meetings can therefore be considered as valuable elements for future models for collaboration in learning networks and for establishing an international community of “learning designers.”
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Initial Experiences

The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) launched educational modeling language (EML) (Koper, Hermans, Vogten, & Brouns, 2000) for public use in December 2000 as a specification that enables the modeling of both content and processes in e-learning. To promote use in contexts outside of OUNL, a Web site ( was created through which the specification could be downloaded and from which newsletters were sent to subscribed participants. In the years 2001 and 2002, the amount of subscribers gradually grew towards a number around 2,800. Although many subscribers regularly visited the Web site to download or study additional information, no channel was available to seek guidance, share experiences, offer examples, and help distribute the load of training about EML beyond the originators of the specification.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaboration: Any activity that includes the social exchange of information between people that work together.

Self-Organization: A characteristic of complex and adaptive systems that display emergent behavior. A structure that self-organizes and gets its smarts from below; agents residing on a scale start producing behavior that lies one scale above them (e.g., ants create colonies, learners create learning communities).

Social Affordances: Properties of a CSCL environment that act as social-contextual facilitators relevant for the learner’s social interactions.

Incentive Mechanisms: A treatment or measure to motivate and encourage people (i.e., to participate in a learning network).

Social Exchange Theory: Theory that informs us that participants will contribute more when there is some kind of intrinsic or extrinsic motive (or reward) involved. It suggests a relation between a person’s satisfaction with a relation (i.e., with the learning network) and a person’s commitment to that relation (i.e., his willingness to actively participate).

Participation: The level of activity in a learning network that can be either passive (consuming information) or active (contributing information).

Face-to-Face Meetings: Meetings where people are physically present together in a space (i.e., to learn and discuss about a certain topic of joint interest).

Blended Learning: Mix of (blend) regular and distance education or training. Blended learning is education that includes both physical presence and interaction with fellow students and teachers at certain times and places, as well as electronic learning environments that can be accessed at any point of time and place.

Learning Networks: Two-mode networks represented as a graph with nodes, where the nodes are “participants” (actors, members, learners) and “activities.” Activities can be anything that is available to support learning, such as a course, a workshop, a lesson, an Internet learning resource, and others. Central to the notion of a learning network is that all participants are in a position to contribute.

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