Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Learning with Networks

Mar 29, 2007

Terry Anderson, who is well known for his discussions of "various types and function of interaction in formal (usually distance) education contexts," looks at what John Dron calls the interaction between the student and the group. Now again, the word "group" is used loosely here - "Downes' sense of fluid, unbounded networks relates directly to the multiple forms, size and purpose of informal distributed synchronous and asynchronous collections of individuals that Dron refers to as groups." But, as Anderson notes, access to a network from a formal situation works differently than in an informal situation. And so he cautions teachers about what to expect when they access the network: the quality of interaction with the network will vary greatly according to the skill and experience of the student. It will also fluctuate from dead silence to blizzards of activity. "Dron also notes that the scale of interaction with groups stands in stark contrast to that of typical threaded discussion taking place within the confines of a formal institutional learning management system."


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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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