Material matters for learning in virtual networks: A case study of a professional learning programme hosted in a Google+ online community.

  • Aileen Ackland School of Education, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • Ann Swinney School of Education, Social Work and Community Education, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
Keywords: professional education and training, learning communities, higher education, Actor–Network Theories

Abstract

In this paper, we draw on Actor–Network Theories (ANT) to explore how material components functioned to create gateways and barriers to a virtual learning network in the context of a professional development module in higher education. Students were practitioners engaged in family learning in different professional roles and contexts. The data comprised postings in the Google+ community, email correspondence, meeting notes, feedback submitted at the final workshop and post-module evaluation forms. Our analysis revealed a complex set of interactions, and suggests multiple ways human actors story their encounters with non-human components and the effects these have on the learning experience. The aim of this paper is to contribute to a more holistic understanding of the components and dynamics of social learning networks in the virtual world and consider the implications for the design of online learning for continuous professional development (CPD).

Keywords: professional education and training; learning communities; higher education; Actor–Network Theories

(Published: 14 August 2015)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2015, 23: 26677 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v23.26677

 

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Author Biographies

Aileen Ackland, School of Education, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Senior Lecturer
School of Education

 

Ann Swinney, School of Education, Social Work and Community Education, University of Dundee, United Kingdom

Lecturer
School of Education, Social Work and Community Education

 

Published
2015-08-14
How to Cite
Ackland, A., & Swinney, A. (2015). Material matters for learning in virtual networks: A case study of a professional learning programme hosted in a Google+ online community. Research in Learning Technology, 23. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v23.26677
Section
Original Research Articles