Investigating the social configuration of a community to understand how networked learning activities take place (#nlc2014)
1. Investigating the social configuration of a community
to understand how networked learning activities take place
The OER universitas Case study
Bieke Schreurs, Antoine Van den Beemt, Fleur Prinsen, Maarten De Laat, Gabi Witthaus, Gráinne Conole
3. POERUP Partners
1. Sero (coordinator) (UK)
2. University of Leicester (UK)
3. Open University of the Netherlands
4. University of Lorraine (France)
5. SCIENTER (Italy)
6. EDEN (Ireland)
7. Athabasca University (Canada)
4. Context, rationale and focus for POERUP consortium
• Over ten years OER movement & hundreds of OER repositories worldwide,
but: Lack of uptake by teachers and learners.
• Shift from OER development to OER-Community building & Articulation of OER
• Evaluating successful OER communities & Stimulating the uptake of OER through
• 24 Country reports, 7 in depth Case studies
5. How are the active communities organised?
What are the driving forces behind the
dynamics of the active communities?
COMMUNITIES AROUND OPEN
6. Theoretical and Empirical background
• Networked learning (e.g. de Laat, 2006)
• (Online) Communities of practice (Wenger, 2011)/ ‘Affinity spaces’ (Gee, 2005))/ Networks
of practice/ Teams (Doornbos & Laat, de, 2012)?
• Social configurations and Dimensions of learning (Vrieling, E., Van den Beemt, A., & De
Laat, M. (in press))
• Community indicators (Galley Conole, & Alevizou (2012).
Diversity of social configurations and nature/strength of relationships that make up the
=> impact on value created?
8. Short description of the case study
• The OERu is an initiative of the Open Educational Resource Foundation, based in New
• Aim: contributing to the global push of the OER agenda.
• Offers free online academic courses
• The OERu is the umbrella of a consortium of 26 public post-secondary institutions
• Alongside the consortium, OERu is enhanced by a system of volunteers (Mackintosh,
McGreal, & Taylor, 2011).
9. 4 dimensions of a community’s social configuration,
supporting the development of OER communities
2) (Collective) Identity
3) Organisation and Facilties
To what kind of value creation does participation in OER practices lead?
10. Having a shared domain will support development of OER communities
• What is it all about/ What is the (knowledge) domain? Shared interest?
• Do all members pursue a common goal?
11. Experiencing a shared identity will support the development of OER
• How do the members see the community?
• What are the shared values that drive their actions?
• What defines the network as a whole or distinguishes them from other social
• Are there any barriers to unity?
• Do members experience a sense of belonging/ownership? What is their place in it?
• Can the inner and outer circle differ in their identity?
12. (Certain types of) organisation will support the development of OER
• Are there any central actors driving development?
• (To what degree) is the community/network institutionalised?
• Why is it structures/configured as it is?
• Characterised as transparent, hierarchical?
• How do media play a role in the emergent structure?
13. OER communities are constituted through certain practices
What are common activities, behaviors, attitudes in this network?
• Are there distinct roles?
• Are the practices embedded (or becoming) in more local practices
• Have some of the practices been developed in other social settings or are they new in
• Are there several subcommunities of practice within the OER networks,
• Do their practices spill over into other subcommunities?
14. What inspires all community members to participate in OERu are the shared
philanthropic values concerning education in general.
The interview respondents stated that the biggest value the community
creates for them is sharing mutual values with peers.
These values are mirrored in a shared goal:
Widening participation in education through sharing OER.
Does OERu have a shared Domain that drives the community?
15. How is OERu organised?
• Central coordination
• Central quality standards
• Partly institutionalised (sub)networks
• Supporting technology
16. What do the practices of OERu look like?
• Coordination of the community
• Co-creation of OER
• Brokering between networked components of the community
• Contributing to ongoing debate about OER
18. HOW TO GET THINGS DONE:
LEARNING AND SHARING EXPERTISE WITHIN THE OERu NETWORK
Follow a course on how to use the wiki & Ask questions of experts through wiki Q&A forum,
& Contact by email & mailing list
• E.g. online workshop on copyright offered by core network
• Within institutional teams => offline learning through shared practice within institution
• Volunteers rely more on friends and personal acquaintances for valuable conversations
around OER. Online media play an important role in their connectivity.
• Institutional members have more opportunities to discuss with local colleagues.
short history of community and lack of opportunities to meet face to face. => still learning
how to share open learning materials within their own institutions and within their own
19. Emerging cohesive, productive groups?
• We generated networks from questionnaire data of persons with whom participants had
valuable conversations around open learning materials in the most in the last three months.
• The density of the networks ranged from 18% to 50% (mean 31%).
• Given the fact that the OERu is an international network, with a wide global spread
(partners in every continent), we can state that these individual networks are relatively
20. Build up a shared domain:
TIP: A shared domain serves as a solid ground for learning within the wider community
BUT the complexity and multi-level feature of the organisation requires more time
to develop deeper networked learning activities to the wider community.
Embed the community work in practice (schools and HE):
TIP: The double identity of the institutional member who was interviewed, as both an
academic and a liaison person, makes his position like a bridge: he translates
knowledge from the community members to his institutional team, along with the
practical implications, and vice-versa.
Keep a community coordinator and core group
TIP: Only small percentage is visibly highly competent in OER production. Core members (know how to)
use a wide variety of media for curating, sharing and producing and have steep learning curve.
Peripheral members seem to have more shallow learning curves, though.
Think about embedding OER teams within educational institutions
Integrate OER use and production with daily work?
Think beforehand how to handle quality of resources
There is a tension between keeping the barriers to sharing low & maintaining a good quality standard.
Quality managers can be involved afterwards to help users get an immediate
indication of quality but in OERu, they work with a fixed partnership and quality standards set-up
Need for continuous learning
Web applications for use in OER change, so need continuous learning.
The innovative capacity of the community is where the sustainability resides,
The ability to continually adapt and change! Innovation comes from boundary
crossing. Investing in communities to adapt, change and grow is essential.
Community managers remain essential to bring things together
Embedded OER-use, sharing and creating into master education for teachers.
Publishers may provide some support for remixing of their materials (ease up on
Open question to the audience. We ask who is involved in a community around open education. Why is it a community? Describe the community. Open question to the audience. We ask 3 people to define how they see open education
These networked learning activities can take place within different groups of practitioners, with different configurations: Groups of practitioners can crystallise in many formal or informal spaces like loose networks, formal teams, project teams or communities of practice. We refer to this space as a social configuration, and we argue that the networked learning activities within a group can be influenced by this social configuration.
By using the framework, researchers as well as teacher groups can assess their views on social learning and analyse whether these fit the learning goals of the group or that their take on social learning requires adjustments.
(Galley at al, 2012) the early appearance of one or more participants performing positive social behaviours (e.g. discursive and deliberative) will impact on the longer-term development of a supportive culture for the life of the community. (Stages of group development, Observe and support Community Activity)
Wellman and Gulia (1999, p.172) argue that
these behaviours (&quot;emotional and peer-group support&quot; and other types of social interactions) – will, and should, appear more often in online community discussions than information-orientated transactions.
the most successful communities (Galley, 2012) have been ones where participants demonstrate interest in each other’s views and used language and tone that is informal but polite, curious, friendly and open.