he Case for ‘Passive’ Learning – The ‘Silent’ Community of Online Learners

Katy Smith, Donna Smith, Distance, The European Journal of Open, E-Learning (EURODL), Dec 07, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"‘Passive,’" say the authors, "can be a, somewhat, provocative word." And so there is some controversy in the idea that some people may find value in passive learning. We would call such participants "lurkers" today (with no change in the provocation). This paper examines the idea within the context of two social science courses offered at the Open University. That's probably not enough scale to provide any reasonable set of results (why don't researchers in this field do anything at scale?) but at least it's a conversation starter. "Perhaps," suggest the authors, "engagement (with material, with students, with tutors etc.) is critical, but not necessarily ‘active’ participation." Not surprisingly, the authors find there is a case to be made.

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