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Chapter 13 Online communities and interactions (May 2011)

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Gráinne Conole
5 May 2011

As discussed elsewhere in this book there has been a shift in the nature of the web and the way it is used from an essentially static Web 1.0 to a more participatory and interactive Web 2.0 (O'Reilly, 2005). Chapter 11 described the new forms of open, social and participatory media and their associated characteristics. Clearly these have immense potential for learning and teaching (Andersen, 2007; Downes, 2005). This chapter will explore this theme in more depth and in particular look at the nature of online interactions and communities. It will argue that new forms of more distributed, loose communities are emerging, which require new ways of describing and evaluating them. The chapter describes some of the most common e-learning pedagogies and looks at examples of how technologies can be used to instantiate these. The chapter will introduce a Community Indicator Framework that we have developed to design and evaluate online spaces and to understand emergent user behaviour in them. The chapter will explore the range of user interactions that are now evident in such online spaces, ranging from individual interactions with resources through to engagement with distributed networks and online communities. It argues that new approaches, such as the Learning Design Methodology introduced in this book, are needed if these online environments are going to be effective in supportive more participatory approaches to learning.

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