Social Configurations of Learning – Communities, Groups, Nets and Sets

As part of my research, I need to explore how people cluster together when they learn socially online. This is really interesting to me, because prior to this, I hadn’t given much thought to the differences between networks, communities and the like; I tended to use the words interchangeably. Lots of people do! Whether it is a network or a community, a group or a set may not really matter to you as an individual learner, because usually the main thing the learner is worried about is getting to the information or the person who will be able to best help them learn or solve a particular problem. Whether it is through their personal learning network, or as part of an online community of learners, the focus is on the learning, not on the structures enabling that learning.

As a researcher, and for those interested in the design of online learning however, it is of great interest to investigate the different social typologies, and how they lead to different outcomes and experiences when learning. Some of the best work in this area is being done by Jon Dron and Terry Anderson (who developed the fantastic ‘groups, nets, sets & collectives’ heuristic).

Click to access source website. Dron & Anderson, 2015.
Click to access source website. Dron & Anderson, 2015.

Of course the seminal Etienne Wenger, whose work with a range of other wise ones has instructed so many in the area of communities of practice is the other source of inspiration for this blog post.

As it is #blogjune, I have put together an infographic to try to capture some of my reading from today. None of this (apart from the design of the graphic) is my own work; it is all drawn from the work of Dron, Anderson and Wenger et al., and to them I express my sincere appreciation.

If you are interested in reading more about this area, please check out the following links as great starting points (they are on the infographic, but I couldn’t hyperlink them, so here they are in a beautiful, easy to click form!)

Teaching Crowds Chapter Three: A Typology of Social Forms for Learning – Dron & Anderson

Introduction to Communities of Practice  – Wenger & Wenger-Trayner

Click to open in presentation mode.
Click to open in presentation mode.

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