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Emergence of new online spaces and communities

Presentation by Kirsti Ala-Mutka

Cloud created by:

Gráinne Conole
31 March 2009

A summary of the IPTS report on Pedagogical innovations in new ICT-facilitated learning communities (see overview cloud

Context and motivations for the study
Need for qualified workers
Need for new skills for new jobs
Lifelong learning and mobility
Equity and active participation
Quality and efficiency
Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship
Lack of transformative impact through ICT in educational systems, although potential exists.

Emergence of social computing
Wide take up
Intensive usage
Not only young people!
Not only for leisure

Good example for language learning – livemocha ‘a powerful opportunity for people around the world to connect with language partners’


  1. Can these emerging online spaces and communities provide learning that is relevant and useful?
  2. What can education and training systems learn from them?
  3. How could online communities benefit from lifelong learning and competitiveness in Europe?
  4. What are the risks and challenges?
  5. What should and could policies do?
  6. Online  community?

Preece (2000) an online community consists of 1. People who interact socially, 2. A share purpose that provides a reasons for the community, 2. Policies that guide people’s interactions, 4. Computers systems to support and mediate social interaction and facilitate a sense of togetherness

In networked online spaces collective actions also follow from individual activities possibly without shared purpose or sense of togetherness. Also these collective can contribute worth exploring – need for articulating the difference to community.

Drivers for participation
1.    Socialising – world of warcract, social networking, YouTube
2.    Production – FLOSS, wikipedia
3.    Organisation – Workplace community, HE online course
4.    Topic – TuDiabetes, Inter VproC, LiveMocha

Online platforms and facilities can enable different levels of communities to emerge

Often communities accommodation several aspects – especially organisation-based vs. horizontal typically had others drivers as well.


  1. Examples – media sharing spaces, blogosphere, online social networks, entertainment
  2. Motivation (from OCLC, 2008) – young people its fun, older people its useful
  3. Activities (Pew/Internet 2006; OCLC, 2008) – creative expression, share and document knowledge and experiences, manage connections, resources, life
  4. Individual’s learning – express and build identity, reflect on one’s life when comparing with others (Park et al. 2008)

Joint production, goal, task

  1. Examples – collaborative joint product development, open soure software development, crowd sourcng for a joint task, collaborative resources repository, social knowledge management systems
  2. Motivation – usefulness for oneself, external requirement, intrinsic interest
  3. Activiites – collaborative work according to community work model, create concrete products as outputs of work
  4. Individual learning – learn to work with others, negotiate, collaborate, observe the practices of others, learn from it

Joint interest, situation expertise

  1. Examples – tool-based knowledge sharing, profession based communities, topic based support, personal health, well being, communtities for context and culture
  2. Motivation – connection and sharing with others and similar situations, need for personal support
  3. Activities – asking and giving advice, reading and following
  4. Individual learning – receiving quick and targeted personal guidance when needed, finding and participating in knowledge development for the area

Organisation based

  1. Examples – community model within courses, integrating institutional environment with other resources, lifelong communities set up at institutions, informal workplace communities
  2. Motivation – requirement, usefulness, avoiding isolation feeling supported
  3. Activities – striving towards given goals, sharing resources, informal advice and support
  4. Learning – learn workplace culture to be part of a team, find and create ways for carrying out tasks, change the practices of the organisation

Online spaces are increasing their importance in people’s lives
Not all online spaces are communities, but they still can support learning

Through online communities people can find out, follow and participate much more than was possible before

Approaching communities through the member motivations and supported activities (production, topic, socialisation) could help in finding and developing online places and communities for learning

Communities within organisations vs horizontal communities can both have specific important features

What should and could be the goals and means in educational institutions

  1. To develop internal communities (learners, teachers)?
  2. To develop participation in external online spaces and communities?
  3. To develop horizontal communities?
  4. To differentiate between communities/online spaces they support?


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