Lifelong learning in the digital age: A content analysis of recent research on participation

Alison J. Head, Michele Van Hoeck, , Deborah S. Garson, Feb 08, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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According to the abstract, "This paper presents results from a cross-disciplinary content analysis of 185 recent research articles, published between 2008 and 2013." Nothing from me, or Wiley, or Levine, or Conole, and only one item from Siemens (from 2006), and exactly two paragraphs of discussion of MOOCs, in the introduction, all of which suggests some issues with the methodology. So what did they focus on? Major themes included organizational climate, learner characteristics and attitudes, market forces, and underserved populations. To me this looks like a reading list from the 80s and 90s. The discussion of trends (worth reading) that follows reinforces that perception. And as the authors note, "studies on participation in online learning were very much in the minority in our dataset." This is the one really big trend in the period they've studied, and they appear to have missed it almost completely!

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