Talk:Networked learning

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I don't think there is a real need to distinguish informal and formal networked learning. Networked learning goes on in both and in much the same way. The only thing that formal learning brings is an assessment and recognition process. I'm thinking to delete the references but point to other articles about formal and informal learning, and perhaps mention that NL is useful to enhance learning outcomes in both formal and informal settings...--Leighblackall (talk) 09:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I think that having the distinction between informal and formal networked learning would be beneficial. It would emphasize the impact networked learning has in both modalities. Perhaps explaining how networked learning goes on in both might clarify the two concepts, especially for those who didn’t know the amount of similarity. Furthermore, I think having examples of informal and formal networked learning would be helpful. 300user (talk) 15:12, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think I agree now. Thanks for discussing this 300User. The new layout of the page is looking good, and the addition of a History section now opens it up for information about NL prior to its ICTs focus these days... I am having difficulty finding references prior to ICTs.. I might have to revert to the local library! ;) --Leighblackall (talk) 00:51, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

CSALT's definition a little faulty?[edit]

What does "..learning in which C&IT.." mean? Specificly, what does C&IT stand for? Is it different to ICTs? Why not use the full words or link to an explanation?--Leighblackall 22::09, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

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 [[Wikipedia::Signatures|unsigned]] comment added by Chris R. Jones (talk • [[Special::Contributions/Chris R. Jones|contribs]]) 16::06, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Chris, I think a disclosure is in order from us both. If this Chris Jones is you, then you have some interest in asserting this definition be used. More so however, my own work is focusing on networked learning, where I do not limit the definition to the use of technology. Disclosures aside, I cannot verify (outside the UK) whether or not "The definition is in current use and it is one of the most widely referenced over the past 9 years" as you say. Since 2004 I have referenced predominately Illich (1971), Wenger (1991), Siemens (2005) and Downes (2004), who I don't think would agree that NL is necessarily mediated through ICTs. You may see this perspective on NL as an opinion deviating from the established norm however, so I'll have to dig further to try find citations that show otherwise, or begin working towards establishing it otherwise - perhaps by engaging with the NL conference. Certainly, the work in the UK and the conference should be included, its valuable, thanks for adding more information about it, it has opened a door for me to study through. Leighblackall (talk) 02::01, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
You got the right Chris Jones Leigh and just like you I have an interest in the term. The Networked Learning Conference is not simply UK and it has been established in Europe for several years and it also has a presence through a variety of European projects and networks. The term is not for any one groups to own but the definition I provided is used in several published works and defines the NL Conference series so it has a solid basis. I have tried to base all my contributions on cited evidence. I will come back to edit the page but I hope we don't end up deleting each other's contributions. I want to include reference to Asynchronous Learning Networks as they are used in North America following Hiltz and Harrasim etc. and I have a different take on the historical timeline you have added. It would be good if you or someone working with you could conect with the NLC which has its next conference in Maastricht 2012. Chris R. Jones (talk) 15::27, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't think I have deleted anything. Myself and others have been rearranging information, trying to tighten things up, make some things brief and expand on the history and models sections. Regarding the opening paragraphs, on 15 June an IP address in the USA tried to soften the technological determinant in the CSALT definition by inserting a Gilly Salmon reference above it. I notice you moved the CSALT definition back above Salmon however (links are just to help future reviewers).
These past few days, I have mostly been trying to develop the history some more, adding A Pattern Language to the 1970s, and salvaging some info from a recently deleted article on Wikipedia called Collaborative Networked Learning that was useful for the 1980s.
Also, I understood the conference was international, or became that way, the experience we're having here, defining NL in Wikipedia might make an interesting paper there.. networked learning about networked learning and all. I'm in the process of writing one similar, called Networked Learning a Biomass Heat Transfer System if you're interested Leighblackall (talk) 12::31, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
The definition we use came out of a series of UK and European projects in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is recorded in some detail in the introductory chapter in an edited book based on the last NLC due out this autumn. There is also a rich repository of papers available from the NL conferences as you probably know already (link on the main page0.
Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., Hodgson, V. and McConnell, D. (Eds) (2011). Exploring the Theory, Pedagogy and Practice of Networked Learning. NY : Springer
The definition first appeared in a published form in the book I edited with Chris Steeples in 2002 but it had been in use for several years prior to that in a JISC funded UK project and to inform the 1998 and 2000 NL conferences. There have been discussions about alternatives and developments to the definition amongst the NL community but we agreed to stick with the original for several reasons.
  1. It has been very robust and has wide acceptance. For a definition set out in the late 1990s it still has resonance.
  2. It stabilises a community of practitioners and researchers. We can all agree on this despite its weaknesses and we are free to have our own variations and developments whilst still referencing back to the common source.
  3. The link to networked computing allows the definition to have limits. Learning has always relied on social connections and connections with resources but it is not productive to include under the same banner internet mediated connections with these earlier forms.
I will also edit the history and introduction but I’m not sure in what order. This is linked to what I have said here. I want to make the 1970s and 1980s precursors of networked learning. This is factually accurate and helps balance the account. Currently the 1970s and 80s are overrepresented for a period when very few spoke in these terms. I will also build on the Alexander link as Peter Goodyear from Sydney University (an early proponent of NL at Lancaster University) has pursued this link to Pattern Languages in his work on educational design and design patterns. Chris R. Jones (talk) 08:46, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Discussion continues at Leighblackall (talk) 22:43, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Does it have to involve ICTs?[edit]

  • The definition is problematic in that it begs for the definition of "the use of ICT". So if communication happens by talking to your colleagues it's not networked learning, but if you add a video-conference in between, then it is?
Nevertheless, ICT is expanding the ways in which learning can happen, although even before computers people have used non-digital ICT to enhance their learning (granted the ICT may have consisted of paper, a quill, writing letters, but it's still 'information and communication technology').
Is it the Networked Learning definition that needs to more clearly articulate ICTs as being ALL technology that assists with conveying information and communication, or is it the linked ICTs entry itself? A quick look at the ICT entry reveals a mess, so perhaps NetLearning does need to be clearer and extend the definition into what is meant by ICTs. I added the ".. but not limited to.." in for now.
Also, I think networked learning is about technology enabled communication and information. A conversation between people may well be a learning network, but I think there is a subtle but clear enough difference with the term networked learning. Or perhaps the very idea of a network has changed enough...
  • Thanks for your comments, I hope you don't mind me pasting them here - their conversational tone suggests that they are better placed in the discussion area - which I think is a very important part of any entry, but sadly under used in most articles.--Leighblackall 09:32, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Chris Jones, I'm reading the Google book scan of Advances in research on networked learning, Volume 7 By Peter Goodyear (2004) and have ordered a printed copy through my local library. The contents look to be very useful for knowing research methods and networked learning practices in 2004. My question though is whether or not, to your knowledge, the definition used by CSALT and followers, has been challenged before? It has come up a few times in this Wikipedia project - the idea that NL is not limited to the use of ICTs, so I'm wondering if you've come across this question before in the research publications you read? Leighblackall (talk) 22:57, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

My understanding is that NL does not have to use ICTs, if you look at Wenger and Maarten de Laat's use of NL it even extends and combines with communities of learning. (See Wenger, Trayner & de Laat (2011)] and Schreurs and de Laat (2012)). Paul.sijpkes (talk) 05:19, 13 May 2013 (UTC)


  • In my opinion, the first general thought about the term “networked learning” assumes digital ICTs. I think that if the definition of “networked learning” is to include non-digital ICTs, then the history section needs to encompass the periods before the emergence of the internet (eg. talking, paper, etc). 300user (talk) 15:12, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I added reference to Ivan Illich's vision of "Learning Webs" in chapter 6 of his 1971 book, Deschooling Society. Dunno why I hadn't thought of it sooner! Leighblackall (talk) 08:45, 23 October 2010 (UTC)
  • The reference to Illich is good and I use it in the 2009 book I edited with Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld. Illich was talking about an environment in which computers were already assumed, although this was prior to the PC, so even in his hands networked assumed digital ICTs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chris R. Jones (talkcontribs) 16:10, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
  • I'm not convinced that Illich was envisioning "Learning Webs" as necessarily being computer mediated. If our shared reference is to his 1971 book Deschooling Society, then it is in chapter 6 where he introduces his ideas of how "Learning Webs" would work, and it comes across to me to more a principle for learning, than one linked to computers and computer based networks. In the interests of helping others into this question, I've picked a few quotes to try and support my reading of it:
"The same people, paradoxically, when pressed to specify how they acquired what they know and value, will readily admit that they learned it more often outside than inside school. Their knowledge of facts, their understanding of life and work came to them from friendship or love, while viewing TV, or while reading, from examples of peers or the challenge of a street encounter. Or they may have learned what they know through the apprenticeship ritual for admission to a street gang or the initiation to a hospital, newspaper city room, plumber's shop, or insurance office. The alternative to dependence on schools is not the use of public resources for some new device which "makes" people learn; rather it is the creation of a new style of educational relationship between man and his environment. "
  • The last sentence should be enough to argue that Illich is not suggesting the use of computers per say, he's talking about a new perspective on learning, where it is networked through webs. Admittedly, the Internet gives us this most easily, but it is entirely possible for people to adopt his perspective on learning where computers and the Internet are not available. For example, Illich uses the Bolivian experience to give context to his idea:
"To give an example: The same level of technology is used in TV and in tape recorders. All Latin-American countries now have introduced TV: in Bolivia the government has financed a TV station, which was built six years ago, and there are no more than seven thousand TV sets for four million citizens. The money now tied up in TV installations throughout Latin America could have provided every fifth adult with a tape recorder. In addition, the money would have sufficed to provide an almost unlimited library of prerecorded tapes, with outlets even in remote villages, as well as an ample supply of empty tapes.
This network of tape recorders, of course, would be radically different from the present network of TV. It would provide opportunity for free expression: literate and illiterate alike could record, preserve, disseminate, and repeat their opinions. The present investment in TV, instead, provides bureaucrats, whether politicians or educators, with the power to sprinkle the continent with institutionally produced programs which they-or their sponsors--decide are good for or in demand by the people."
  • I've certainly been quick to see the link between Illich's example and the Internet too, but I wouldn't go as far as to say his imaginings are informed by the computing and computer network theories of the time. His is a principled approach to learning (and technology) more broadly "[Learning webs are] the creation of a new style of educational relationship between man and his environment."
Leighblackall (talk) 02:27, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I do perceive a different. Learning in “Networks” using various forms of communication from F2f work of mouth, text and audio calling, under various terms such as communities of practice, pen pal type study groups, shared correspondence among intellectuals/researchers, conference calls, learning webs etc have existed long before the internet. Of course, the amount of time and number of people involved in the sharing in these “networks” of people was much different from the age of instant—anytime, anyplace connections between individuals and findable content. CNL as I conceptualized it, which was vetted for 5 years on Wikipedia with only minor edits was a form of Networked learning which did involve information and communication technologies as envisioned at the time. "Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL)" is that learning which occurs via electronic dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a common purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their success. CNL occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate and negotiation meaning with one another within a contextual framework which may be facilitated by an online coach, mentor or group leader. The dominate “technology” at the time enable the learning processes. I believe that the networks concept has gained popularity in the computer world and also in the biological based network of humans and other creatures. Networks and networking can be a means to an end for learning; and as the Cisco commercial welcomes us To the human network. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dr. Chuck (talkcontribs) 16:39, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

New Section - Concerns[edit]

I'm new to Wikipedia and I entered the Concerns section as an anonymous user ( by accident. Sorry. I added this section because I felt that there needed to be a contrary opinion to the uses of networked learning. The study by Sammons et all (2007) pointed out there are very few studies to verify the claim of enhancing student learning with networked learning systems. If there are any other studies to be found, I think it would be beneficial to add it on this article.300user (talk) 03:02, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I agree 300user, and adding this section will be very helpful to this an emerging field. My concern with the Concerns ;) is that it may tend to focus on NL's effectiveness in formal and traditional methods of education... but as you suggest, if we can gather more research - including stuff that looks at its effectiveness in informal learning, then we may help resolve my concerns with the Concerns. Thanks for joining in on this effort. --Leighblackall (talk) 00:46, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
I've just reread this page after some time away and the Concerns section stands out to me as more info than is required. I tend to think that the information there at the moment is about as relavent as the other helpful information in the See Also and External Links sections.. I reckon it should be removed, with links to the research added in the External Links section... what do you think? --Leighblackall (talk) 06:15, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

See Also-- Collaborative Networked Learning[edit]

Thank you for including the link to Collaborative Networked Learning about the early work in ghe 1980's. Unfortunately, the deletionist at Wikipedia has decided to remove this entry. Please feel free to include the concept and the content as it relates to the general issue of Networked Learning. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dr. Chuck (talkcontribs) 14:22, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

  • That's a shame Dr Chuck, I hope you brought content across to here. Our history section needs the 80s covered more Leighblackall (talk) 23:46, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

The Learning Exchange[edit]

In a Twitter message from rogre and leighblackall (rogre/status/82263124706725888) Rogre points to a blog post on Adventures in Free Schooling that talks briefly about the Illinois Learning Exchange of the 1970s. Will the post references John Holt's book Instead of Education (Sentient Publications, 2004 - 250 pages) it does not directly link to more information about the Learning Exchange. A web search of Learning Exchange reveals a number of initiatives with similar titles, such as the Teaching and Learning Exchange TaLE in NSW Australia, which appears to merely be an initiative of institutionalised learnings, directing people to institutions of education. It may however, have a different history in its beginnings.. worth investigating at least. Interestingly, there are a number of Learning Exchange community initiatives in a number cities and towns, but there is not yet a Wikipedia entry for this shared program of Learning Exchange.. Leighblackall (talk) 00:22, 20 June 2011 (UTC)


Habermas (1981, 44) defines communicative action as:

‘… that form of social interaction in which the plans of action of different actors are co-ordinated through an exchange of communicative acts, that is, through a use of language orientated towards reaching understanding’.

Leighblackall (talk) 09:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

19th Century Networks Theory[edit]

"The first of these, the old Saint-Simonian ‘cult of networks’, feeds the contemporary desire for a horizontality of social links. The 19th century was characterized by the building of many network infrastructures – telegraph, railway, electricity – and a corresponding egalitarian ideology. Applying the French Revolution ideology to an industrial ground, Saint-Simon, who was both engineer and philosopher, built a theory of the network as the best means to connect people and to strengthen citizenship (Musso, 2003)." Musso, P. (2003) Critique des réseaux. Paris: PUF in Rebillard, Franck & Touboul, Annelise. (2010). Promises unfulfilled? 'Journalism 2.0', user participation and editorial policy on newspaper websites. Media, Culture & Society Volume 32 Leighblackall (talk) 03:38, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Engeström says community is important[edit]

A friend from Otago University, Russell Butson, supports me in my appreciation of Deschooling and other related subjects. I asked Russell for his opinion on the question of whether networked learning is determined by computer mediation, and the following email conversation followed. It is published here with Russell's permission. Leighblackall (talk) 02:37, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

"Sorry Leigh – I should have sent this a week ago – but have been very busy.
My view is that digital networking (the use of digital technologies to create networks) is defined by computing, however, learning (Bateson’s learning III or transformative learning) only occurs within these networks because of community. There are many networks that don’t generate communities and therefore many networks that have nothing to do with learning…but all communities result in learning, whether they are networked or not, whether they are digital or not.
….. Engestrom’s series of interviews for the Networked Learning Community covers these issues well.
You MUST listen to ALL of these in order to appreciate his perspective"
Russell Butson 5 July 2011
I replied with:
"...In Ep2 Engestrom makes your argument, that networks and nodes in a network are not enough, community is needed.
In Ep3 he gives advice to Chris' students, not to think of networks as closed. I believes there to be a tendency for people to think of online networks as closed into themselves, and not to realise how they permeate across boundaries of physical and virtual, from one culture to another, and into societies.
This advice in Ep3 supports my position I believe, and those who think of networked learning as being closed to computer mediated networks are apposed to Engestrom's position. But also, doesn't Engestrom risk contradicting his first point about the necessity of community in learning, where he seems to imagine the possibility of a network existing only as nodes, and that each node can become a mere commodity. Or at least as much as he needs to point out the necessity of community for networked learning to be possible. This, to me and on the face of it, seems to reveal that Engestrom is not taking his own advice as stated in Ep3, and thinks that it is possible for people to exist as mere nodes, devoid of community connection, and closed to within a network. I guess it is possible, but then almost all of us have families to return to, friends to talk to, markets, parks, civic spaces and cultural spaces to walk through, etc. So none of us can be mere nodes. Just as his skate boarding son would testify.
But then again, the Internet can interrupt, even destroy connections to real and tangible community, just as much as it apparently creates it... Leighblackall (talk) 02:37, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Russell replies:
"At the end of the day networks exist cognitively – in fact it’s the cognitive conception of networks (currently depicted by neural networks-nodes-pathways) that make them real – not bits-bytes-interfaces (what does an actual computer network look like? – certainly not like our visual cognitive depictions). Networks are cognitive – we create the concept of the network in our mind – when we think of networks – they are constructed cognitively (temporal and spatial properties) not digitally.
As you can see I am shifting the tightly constrained definition of networks – eventually we should be able to undermined (deconstruct) the whole notion/construction of digital networks to the point where we can ask….
… is there really anything substantial in the phrase: Networked Learning?"
Russell Butson 5 July 2011 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Leighblackall (talkcontribs) 02:49, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Manuel Castells[edit]

Manuel Castells talks about networks at a social level, n this talk referring to understandings of powerin networks: Network Theories of Power - Manuel Castells

"The sociological work of Prof. Manuel Castells Oliván synthesises empirical research literature with combinations of urban sociology, organization studies, internet studies, social movements, sociology of culture, and political economy. About the origins of the network society, he posits that changes to the network form of enterprise predate the electronic internet technologies (usually) associated with network organization forms (cf. Castells and Organization Theory)." Leighblackall (talk) 04:51, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Maarten De Laat's PhD Thesis - Networked Learning[edit]

Here's a review to a PhD Thesis by Maarten De Laat on Networked Learning Leighblackall (talk) 02:29, 6 December 2011 (UTC) Link seems to have expired... please can someone fix it? --MJ1735 (talk) 08:34, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

I emailed Maarten, but he wasn't aware of the review. He did send a link to his PhD however. Leighblackall (talk) 03:39, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

School of the Air[edit]

Does the School of the Air warrant a mention in Networked Learning? Especially if we consider the amateur radio clubs as well... Leighblackall (talk) 05:49, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Bonnie Nardi[edit]

Similar to the above, Bonnie Nardi's work from 2000 may be worth referencing...? nice emphasis on the human network: MJ1735 (talk) 10:44, 9 January 2015 (UTC)