FDOL 2014

Collaborative learning – how does a community of practice start?

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After the first couple of weeks we in our group developed a kind of working process. We first worked individually,  processed content such has articles and videos provided or found material of our own. For me this phase meant extracting ideas that either interested me or that answered questions formed from the scenario point of view. Mostly it was the former.

When meeting as a group  in the Google hangout each member had the opportunity to present and give voice to the ideas, test the understanding of concepts and also to receive feedback in form of clarifying questions.  Some of our meetings resulted in a presentation in the form of a PowerPoint or a Prezi, some did not.

For me it is interesting to review the literature on how this kind of iterative learning process  – collaborate learning can be explained. According to Etienne Wenger (2000) a constellation such as our PBL-group can be viewed as a social system.  When we engage with content and ideas first individually and secondly as a group, we have two processes of meaning making  that fuels the learning. One process is participation, this is where we share our ideas and negotiate our understanding through social activities, for instance a discussion. The other process is where we transform our ideas, reification (making into an object) and create our presentations and personal reflections.  The social learning here is the result of these two processes at interplay .



The dual process of meaning making, inspired by Wenger (2000) 

These entwined processes  are repeated  throughout the course within different activities. After writing the reflection we had the opportunity to review  peers writing and respond, and get comments in return  –  as I try to visualise this I see a form of learning spiral (might be completely wrong though :-)).



Learning as a product of a social structure. Inspired by Wenger (2000). 

Wenger explains the continuos experience as an interplay where the groups create a social learning history and that the group can in fact over time create a community of practice.

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a
concern or a passion for something they do and learn how
to do it better as they interact regularly”

(Wenger, 2011)

So then, which teacher would not want their course participants to go beyond course discussions and and see their course  evolve beyond the course boarders into a learning community? It would be very interesting to try to create forums and activities within more courses at the universities that would  enable the same phenomenon that is occurring in the FDOL course  – that is facilitators teaming up as a result of a personal interest, imagine that.



Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/09-10-27-CoPs-and-systems-v2.01.pdf 


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