Strategically maintaining online learning community in a postgraduate writing program
Martin Andrew, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
ASCILITE - Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Annual Conference, Publisher: Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education
Building and maintaining online learning communities (OLCs) among learners of postgraduate writing is crucial to these students‘ investments in creating effective texts for assessment and possible publication. Well-facilitated OLCs becomes sites of identity negotiation and construction for postgraduate writers, as they create authentic texts and apply industry-focused, text preparation skills for the 'unknown future‘ Barnett (2004) characterises as a key feature of early 21st century Higher Education. This study uses social constructivist, situated pedagogical theories of building and maintaining e-communities to situate a discussion of strategies experienced tutors use to develop and maintain effective e-communities for writers. The context of the study is a core first-year unit 'Critical friends‘ in an online Master of Arts (Writing) taught from Melbourne, Australia. This unit aims to socialise groups of distance learners into quasi-communities of practice (CoPs) by exploiting the possibilities for primarily asynchronous discussion within the Asynchronous Learning Network (ALN) of the Learning Management System (LMS) Blackboard. The strategies offer support between facilitators and the OLC and among participant members. Establishment and maintenance of OLCs can help to break down feelings of marginalisation, offer insider support, harness common goals, encourage shared discourse and promote 'belongingness‘. This involves facilitating participants‘ individual and collective learning and providing contexts where it might continue temporally and spatially in real and imagined communities beyond the group.
Andrew, M. (2010). Strategically maintaining online learning community in a postgraduate writing program. In Proceedings of ASCILITE - Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Annual Conference 2010 (pp. 49-59). Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education.