PJ Evans

Learning networks

Posted on | September 6, 2013 | No Comments

I’ve been recently reading a few papers on learning networks, either as open networks or within a single organisation. What these papers had in common was a focus on networks as mechanisms to support members, especially ‘novices’ (and boy to I hate that term), to navigate through some form of agreed curriculum. This seems to be based on Wenger’s definition of communities of practice as involving a common competence. So if there is a common (agreed) competence set then developing a curriculum whether formally or informally (even intuitively) should be fairly straightforward. But my research of open networks for learning indicate something else happening: that beyond a fairly discrete core, there is not a common competence and no clear curriculum. Rather, learning networks operate as sites of ongoing and continuous negotiation and renegotiation of a bounded set of requisite competences. Networks are rather curriculum forming mechanisms where that curriculum does not appear to settle. Now my research has been focused on learning and education professionals where external and prescribed ‘bodies of knowledge’ are not universally desired (but still seen as a necessary part of being a ‘proper’ professional). So I’m wondering what the experience of others who participate in learning networks and whether you recognise the notion of a curriculum of development guiding that network?


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