Re-Visiting Democratic Pedagogy in the Context of Virtual Learning Communities

Re-Visiting Democratic Pedagogy in the Context of Virtual Learning Communities

Hayriye Tugba Oztürk
DOI: 10.4018/jvcsn.2012070102
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The purpose of this research is two-fold. First, it provides an overview of the debates over whether technology facilitates democratic education. Second, from this emergent body of discussions in the literature, it critically examines the potential of a virtual learning community to materialise democratic education, both through its underpinning of ideal values such as autonomy, participation and mutuality and through the technological spaces which learners inhabit. Virtual learning communities (VLCs) are increasingly appearing in the field of open education and in that sense, these emerging virtual communities demand a new understanding of democratic pedagogy. With regard to this, drawing on the theoretical debates, it aims to discuss how technology can take place in re-exploring the democratic pedagogy under the scope of VLCs. In doing this, a critical in-depth literature review was undertaken in an emergent area of virtual communities by aiming to contribute to the discussions over conceptualizing the democratic VLCs.
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Democratic pedagogy signifies teaching and learning practices in which educational stakeholders (students, tutors, administrators, etc.) govern equally, and knowledge construction essentially occurs through negotiation. The idea of emancipated learning under the title of democracy has been discussed and practiced, but remained an “ideal” for over a century. Now, in the light of technological developments, democratic pedagogy is being re-explored by scholars. In this research, I have aimed to present the recent emergent debates over whether technology promotes democratic education, or it would be hard determinism to assume technology facilitates emancipated education. Then, I elaborated on the discussions by underpinning the values of virtual learning communities which go beyond the hard technologies. The controversial discussions demonstrate that the idea of democracy through VLCs demands new pedagogical understanding in implication.

While presenting the discussions, I tried to cover the main traditions and perspectives in the field by presenting commonalities, differences and debates present in the literature. In the sections below, I will refer to the development of ideas and theoretical frameworks with regard to democratic education and virtual learning communities as an area that suggests future directions for investigation.

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