Digital Communities

According to the title of this blog post it will be about digital communities but first of all I have to tell that my ambition was to spice this up with a beautiful picture from the magnificent drama Outlander. The novel series which is written by the splendid author Diana Gabaldon and superior filmed by Starz about the strong and independent nurse Claire and her Scottish warrior Jamie. I´ve been searching the internet with the intention to find an official free photo of the popular TV show without any luck. All images that I found are under restrictions, terms of use and privacy policy. After years, I finally learnt, to only use images free to use, preferably, under a creative common license. There are a numerous sites (or should I say communities?) providing free images under Creative Commons licenses, largest of course are Flickr and Pixabay not fare behind. I´ve also found some smaller sights, Knykkenilluku and Fotoakuten (both in Swedish). Anyway, back to the community business. For all of us who´s in love with the story Outlander (we´re called #Droughtlander – desperately waiting for season 3 to air in September 2017) there are a lot of communities to take part of. Some of them are welcoming while others are the opposite. Henceforth, while describing communities, I’m talking about communities which are opened and friendly. Communities where you break down walls (not like the Inverness Castle´s strong walls, built for defense) and share your knowledge with peers and fellows.

Northern_Constabulary_Pipe_Band_Drum_Majors_by_Dave Connor
Northern Constabulary Pipe Band – Drum Majors (Present, Future and Past) by Dave Conner (CC BY 2.0)
In accordance with Vygotski´s belief, learning occurs in human interactions which is embedded in social context. In Vygotski´s sociocultural learning theory he acknowledge the individual learning and development dependent on collaboration with (sometimes more capable) peers and in relationship with others. Bandura, one of the main social learning theorist, claims that individuals learn behavioral patterns from each other through observation and imitation. Those observed response patterns have an inhibitory or dis-inhibitory effect on the learner who decides whether the observed response patterns are worth imitating. Thus, the individual decides whether or not the learning leads to a change in behavior (Jarvis, 2010). Considering this, it is of great importance that the community has a lack of pessimistic culture or toxic atmosphere since observing and imitating such behaviors and beliefs ought to be negative for the participant/learner. A community spirit is a reflection of its mind and soul and I believe that dedicated communities needs a leadership with emphasis on equality, engagement and contribution. Even with strong basic values such as, NOT allow bullying for example.

Cove harbour by Neil Roger (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The phenomenon, Community of Practice origins from the sociocultural learning theory and is developed and described by Lave and Wenger (1999). The theory is based upon several assumptions, where among other things, knowledge is dependent on collaboration. The knowledge is described to be embedded and integrated into social relationships and communities. A key factor, in a community where the participants have a shared interest and passion for something, is the commitment and the desire to interact regularly. Social media can be used as a facilitator for this communication. By participating in the Open Networked Learning  I´d experienced how it is to be a part of a great community where we collaborated and shared our precious ideas with each other. Still is by the way!

Cornerstone Peak! by Marc (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sam Heughan is one of the leading star in the filmed version of my favorite story Outlander. He has founded a community named “My peak challenge“, which is a great example of how a supportive and encouraging community can be build. The peak challenge is about making positive changes in life, to simply live healthier, happier and more balanced. The challenge could be either physical or creative – you decide and make a promise to yourself. The physical part comes quite natural for me since I´ve regularly been exercising for years… Guess I´m addicted to the endorphin. If I should make a promise to myself and become a peaker, I think my challenge would be of another kind. It would be to build a friendly and enhancing community with my students and fellow colleagues on the exciting topic Acid-Base Balance.

To summarize, I say – YES to Community of Practice – Je Suis Prest (I am ready)!

Jarvis P (2010) Adult education and lifelong learning. Theory and practice. (4th ed.) London & New York, Routledge.

Lave J, Wenger E (1999) Learning and pedagogy. I  Leach J, Moon B (red.) Learning and pedagogy. London, Paul Chapman.

Photo: Inverness Castle Scotland by Dave Connor (CC BY 2.0)

Embedded learning

I believe in lifelong learning and Jarvis (2010) has defined learning as:

the combination of processes throughout a lifetime whereby the whole person – body (genetic, physical and biological) and mind (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, meaning, beliefs and senses) – experiences social situations, the content of which is then transformed cognitively, emotively or practically (or through any combination) and integrated into the individual person´s biography resulting in a continually changing (or more experienced) person.

The definition is hopelessly complicated and if you want a catchy slogan to promote learning, this is not the one. Yet, I can´t help myself – I love it! I think it is brilliant and the more I learn about learning the more I get to adore the definition.

I have designed a learning activity and today I was trying to argue for what theoretical framework it has. The activity aims to enhance the students awareness of ethical dilemmas linked to CPR-resuscitation and what considerations to be highlighted. The students will be divided into small groups and they will get three short introduction videos to the topic,

  • Surviving CPR-resuscitation
  • Not surviving CPR-resuscitation
  • No active CPR-resuscitation

After watching them the students are supposed to discuss ethical considerations and argue for pros and cons. Finally they are asked to present a quick version of their discussion for the other groups.

At first it was not an easy task to take a theoretical stand but after some reading and thinking it ended up with me arguing for Vygotsky´s Sociocultural Theory… or at least from that tradition. Development and learning process is dependent upon collaboration, interaction and relationship. When I got feedback from my colleagues I learned that this learning activity also could be related to Variation Theory by Marton. At first sight CPR-resuscitation is all about saving lives. When diving into the topic, viewing from different angles students can learn throughout discerning differences about the topic.

It appears to me that teaching is a blessing thus you can pick and choose from a diversity of learning theories when designing learning activities. The main thing is to choose the right theory for the right purpose. The purpose of learning! As Jarvis definition implies, learning is a complex process, occurring both cognitively, emotively and in social contexts. Learning is truly embedded into a persons whole lifetime.

Jarvis P (2010) Adult education and lifelong learning. Theory and practice. 4th edition. New York, Routledge.

Photo: Embedded by Simon Evans (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)