Tag Archive for 'social learning'

Some scrapbook thinking on social learning

Last week I was sitting in my backyard garden, enjoying the spring sun. I suddenly felt the inspiration of combining two models that i lately have been using a lot with the framework from my social learning study with Robin Yap.

I was taking notes in a scrapbook and i drawed the two models such as the figure below. The one on the left is model that I’ve come to use a couple of weeks ago that addresses differences in organizations on strategic, tactic and operational level. This is a sort of upstanding pyramid with on the top the value that you want to create, in the middle there are the solutions that you have found to create this value and on the bottom the products that you need for this. The one on the right is a totally different one, it displays the 4 phases from the appreciative inquiry process, a model for facilitating change in organizations. Normally these phases are drawn in a circle, but I’ve now put them in an upside pyramid that tells you that during discovery and dream you can be very broad in your discussion, there is a broad horizon. But the further you come to your destiny, you have to make choices in what you do in order to stay focused in the pursuit of your dreams. Displaying the models like this, i could see that the different levels have some connections in them as well. What you do in the discovery and dream phase is that your values and try to work toward a shared vision of all individual values. In the design phase you create the (boundaries) of the solutions and with the products you are your destiny.

How does this interrelate with the social learning model?

Value (discover & dream):

  • Improve and innovate business
  • creating a culture for learning, with trust as a dominant factor
  • Building the organizations social capital in order to become knowledge productive

Solutions (design):

  • learning in general, networked learning.
  • more specific: building communities of practice
    • profile – connect – share

Products (destiny):

  • community/ social web technology
  • (community) activities
  • tools such as elgg – twitter – blogs – forums – discussions

I’m aware that combining these in such a strict matter is a rather blunt exercise, but it helped me in defining what comes first in the chain. Using the two models helps to see things in a broader perspective and not to get to the tools right away. Ask yourself the value question first. Why are we doing this, what do we think is valuable in our work? What is my passion? How can we relate all this to the goals of the organization as a whole.

Paper accepted for #NLC2010

Yesterday i got the big news:

“I am pleased to inform you that your paper “A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments”, reference 0053 has been accepted for NLC2010. “

I’m so glad that this paper, which i wrote with Robin Yap, got accepted! It is the first time I will be attending an academic conference after my graduation. In 2007 I presented a working paper as part of my master thesis together with Ida Wognum on the AHRD Int. Conference on HRD Research and Practice across Europe in Oxford, UK. At the time I was used to go to conferences for commercial purposes and I was really attracted by the constructive feedback and atmosphere among all participants in the academic conference. In Oxford I also met Jeffrey Keefer and Robin Yap for the first time, I’m glad we kept in touch online since then.

After my studies (HRD at University of Twente) I kept looking for new possibilities to keep researching aside my job as consultant. In my opinion being a consultant is a highly knowledge intense job. To keep ahead of the competition you need to be able to create new knowledge from patterns of changes you see in the field of expertise and to be able to use that knowledge effectively in your job as a consultant. In else, -to be knowledge productive. In order to be knowledge productive I believe it is important to keep questioning what you see in the world and reflect on that what it means for your work practices. Also, i believe that at times you need to be able to get in “a step further”. Take the time to really study a specific topic and see what the changes mean for practice in relation to the current body of knowledge. So I’m really glad to be having this opportunity now with support from my employer and with the ability to do this research with a great friend who also works from this practice oriented perspective.

The Networked Learning Conference will be held in Aalborg, Denmark at the 3th and 4th of May 2010. It features Etienne Wenger and Yrjö Engeström in the keynotes.

New paper on leveraging social learning technologies

Over the last time, I’ve been working on the startup of a new research project. I’m doing this together with Robin Yap from Toronto, Canada. We’ve met two years ago during an AHRD conference in Oxford and stayed in touch ever since (off course through the use of web technologies).

The research we are working on concerns the issues that we have encountered as (organizational) learning consultants which is the often technology centered focus during implementations of social web technologies. Our aim with this study is to develop a model that could assist in determining how social learning technologies in the workplace can be leveraged to engage, build relationships, and enhance the learning of individuals in corporate environments.

Last week we have finished our first draft of a paper which is submitted as a proposal to the Networked Learning conference in Aalborg next year. From the literature review, we have noticed the importance of trust for leveraging social learning. The model we propose in this paper explores trust as a foundation for the development of social capital in organization and explored how HRD can contribute to that with the use of webtechnologies.

We would appreciate your feedback on this research in progress.

Download the paper: A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments

Social aspects of learning

This blogpost reviews a small spectrum of the available literature on epistemology, notions of knowledge and the relation to the social nature of learning. It is actually a re-publication of a chapter from a working paper for my master thesis. As this weeks topic in the cck08 course is about learning theories I found it worthwile to publish this again. I will elaborate on two worldviews, the positivist and constructivist view. Within these views several cognition theories are explained. Further, a connection is made between the constructivist view of the world with the use of digital media and web-technology. In addition to the original article I’ll eloborate on how connectivism and rhizometic view on knowledge fit in these perspectives.

Positivist view of the world

From the positivist point of view, the world is seen as an objective reality, a pre-given state in which “the aim of the cognitive process is to create the most accurate presentation of this reality” (Harrison & Kessels, 2005; pg. 142). The cognitivist view of knowledge is rooted in this positivist view of the world. It views knowledge as abstract, task specific and oriented towards problem solving (Von Krogh, Roos & Slocum, 1994). Learning is seen as acquiring knowledge by reshaping your personal view of the world through the assimilation of new experience (Von Krogh et al., 1994; Akkerman, 2006). Within the cognitivist view, knowledge, as the managers representation of the world, can be stored and retrieved in organization wide repositories or content systems that give organizational members a shared perception of the world (Von Krogh et al., 1994).

Constructivist view of the world

The constructivist point of view sees the world as an objective external reality, a not pre-given state (Harrison & Kessels, 2005). A powerful cognitive theory rooted in the constructivist view of the world is the autopoiesis theory. Originally in the field of neurobiology, autopoiesis theory was later developed in the field of social science as a theory of knowledge of a social system. Autopoiesis theory views cognition as a creative act of bringing forth a world (Von Krogh et al., 1994). It views knowledge not as abstract, but as embodied in the individual. Or, as Brown and Duguid (2002) put it: “knowledge entails a knower” (pg. 119). The autopoiesis theory makes also a clear distinction between data, information and knowledge. In this view, the mere storage and availability of knowledge in organization wide repositories as within the cognitivist view is not sufficient. (Digital) materials stored in repositories are viewed of as data. People create information of these data by not only retrieving it, but also discuss it and file it for later use (Von Krogh et al., 1994). Pieces of information are used to actively construct knowledge trough a process of personalization and adding meaning to it.

Under influence by the ideas of Vygotsky, the social-constructivist and the socio-culture perspectives emphasize more on the social nature in which the construction of knowledge takes place. The two perspectives differ in their notion on where information processes lie. The social-constructivist perspective makes a distinction between the learner and the environment, but the socio-cultural perspective sees the individual as part of that environment (de Laat, 2006). Also Akkerman (2006) outlines this specific situation of the socio-cultural perspective in a comparison with the cognitive theory and notes that with the former, information processes lie within social interaction. The construction of knowledge lies within the social interaction, such as might be found in work related learning networks as networks of practice and communities of practice.

Networks of practice are networks of people who have a shared practice and knowledge in common, but these people are mostly unknown to each other (Brown & Duguid, 2002). Web-technologies have extended the reach of such networks, in which information can know be transmitted with higher speed to a larger audience of people. An example is a network of people established through Wikipedia. The content of this encyclopedia is produced by the members of the network, everyone who surfs on the web and wants to make a contribution.

Communities of practice are smaller units within the networks of practice. These are small groups of people who work together and mostly know each other also in the real world. Communities of practice are emergent, they evolve around a shared topic of interest. Within these communities, some members are core participants, while others act more peripherally (Brown & Duguid, 2002; Lave & Wenger). Whereas the learning that resides in networks of practice remains more static, in communities of practice allow for rich creation of knowledge through collaborative learning activities between members. Social software or web 2.0 technologies made these rich collaborative learning activities also possible trough the web, thereby enhancing the reach of such communities and the ability for people to form communities that don’t know each other in the real world. Especially weblogs or blogs might be a great opportunity to facilitate such networks. Obviously, the network of CCK08 learners can be called a community of practice.

Connectivism and the rhizometic view on knowledge show many similarities with the views of knowledge that reside under a positivist view of the world. I havent had the chance yet to study the ideas of Vygotsky very closely, but i do find it intersting to see that the socio-cultural perspective on knowledge very closely represents the connectivist ideas. As connectivism sees learning occur when distributed within a network, the socio cultural theory sees that it lies within the social interaction that can be found in a network. Perhaps the artifacts that are used nowadays are different, but that shouldnt neccesarily affect the view on knowledge.

Akkerman, S.F. (2006). Strangers in dialogue: Academic collaboration across organizational boundaries (Doctoral dissertation, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2006).

Brown, J.S. (2000). Growing up digital. Change, vol. 32, no 2 (March/ April 2000).

Brown, J.S. Duguid, P. (2002). The social life of information. Harvard Business school press, Boston,

De Laat, M. (2006). Networked learning (Dissertation, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands).

Harrison, R. & Kessels, J. (2004). Human resource development in a knowledge economy. An organizational view. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Lave, J., and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press.

Von Krogh, G. Roos, J. Slocum, K. (1994). An essay on corporate epistemology. Strategic
Management Journal. Vol. 15, (summer), pp. 53-71.