7th blog post: Are we a network or a group, and what is our learning community type?


Picture credit: Smith, M. (2012). 20120131-NodeXL-Twitter- gatesfoundation network graph. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

This is a question I began wrestling with about four weeks ago, I began to form some ideas, and they really haven’t changed. Recently, Nikki alerted me to the fact that others (herself, Mitch and Keturah) were starting to talk about this, so I’m offering my two cents.

Are we a group? Yes. According to Dron and Anderson (2014, p. 76), we have characteristics that define us as a group:

  • We are all listable – we know each other by name, and the USQ forum lists us.
  • There are definite “lines of authority and roles”, for example, there is Chris, who’s our lecturer, and then there are us students.
  • Our rubric structures define our behaviour through the tasks we’ve been assigned, the number of posts we write, their length and links created.

As a result of the above, especially considering the requirements asked of us and learning goals which are part of this class, we would be a task based group (Riel & Polin, 2004, p. 38).

Are we a net? In some respects we are in that we acknowledge we’re all professionals, have expertise and knowledge in our areas and have like-minded peers that we can potentially rely on. Thus, we are nodes. However, I have mixed feelings towards us being called a network when it comes to NGL. McLoughlin and Lee (2008, p. 14) suggests that a feature of a networked society is that “learning is a process of making connections between specialized nodes or information sources”. I humbly question if we are specialised in this area – even though we back up our ideas with articles, and thus contribute to each other’s learning. That said I would agree that in addition to being a task-based learning community, we operate within an evolving knowledge-based community. I say “evolving” as Riel and Polin (2004, p. 38) state that such communities have experts participating in them (which we’re not), but there is a focus on knowledge production which is made explicit through our blog posts. Hence we may one day become experts.


Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). A typology of social forms for learning Teaching Crowds : Learning and Social Media. (pp. 71-91). EDMONTON:  Athabasca University Press.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2008). The three p’s of pedagogy for the networked society: Personalization, participation, and productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10-27. Retrieved from  https://netgl.wordpress.com/.

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical dfferences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Klinge, & J. H. Gray (Eds.). Designing for virtual communties in the service of learning. (pp. 16-51). Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.



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