This is a blog for the Brookes e-Learning Pathfinding Project.
Community approaches to the design for learning, and increased learner autonomy underpins our work. Our aim is to support the wider Brookes community by enabling them to create ad hoc social learning networks easily and to use collaborative, learner-centred, self-directed pedagogies in line with our Enhancing Student Learning Experience Strategy.
We prefer to envisage the progression of learning not through a metaphor of upward linear or hierarchical ascension but rather as a journey through concentric layers towards the core or heart of communities of knowledge, inquiry or practice: think of tree rings or onions. We take a broad social perspective on learning (Goodman, Lillis et al. 2003). We believe that learning occurs through purposeful activity (Leont’ev 1978 ) and reflection (Dewey 1933), with the use of tools. Our vision is informed by Wenger and Lave’s community of practice theory (Lave and Wenger 1991; Wenger 1998). Through purposeful engagement with communities of practice people progress from a state of peripheral participation on the margins of a community towards a state of mastery of the forms and norms of the community at its heart. Like Peer Gynt’s onion the journey is never complete; there are always more layers to be investigated. This journey is sometimes mirrored by progression in formal education from school to college to university, but as often as not is supported by episodes of informal and semi-formal learning which may or may not be accredited. This may take place in institutions of education, but perhaps more often occurs in the workplace, the home, the community centre and all the other places where people interact. In our e-Learning developments we are seeking to model this journey through layers and to test the model in discrete parts. We are not seeking to model – nor to build – the whole system in one go. Through a series of related projects and activities we will build case studies that illustrate and test parts of the model.