Mon 13th November 2017 - 10:29

Catch up on our latest OEE discussion: benefits and challenges of learning communities

On 28 November 2017 Open Education Europa (OEE) invites you to join an online discussion on the benefits and challenges of creating learning communities.

The live chat session is organised as part of OEE’s November focus on learning communities in open education and it will be moderated by Educator and Educational Researcher, Barry Switnicki.

During the discussion participants can share their thoughts and experiences on the following topics:

  • What specifically is a learning community?
  • What are the intended benefits of a learning community?
  • What are the optimum qualities and intentions to develop in a learning Community structure and process?
  • What enhances the effectiveness of, and engagement in, a learning community?
  • Are the basic foundational concepts of a learning community different in a face-to-face environment than in an online environment?
  • In practice, learning communities are often a sustaining innovation. How do we evolve learning communities into a disruptive innovation? Should we?

Visit this page on 28 November, from 13:00pm to 14:00pm CET. Before taking part, make sure you’re logged into your account (creating an account is free).

**Comments are now open


All Comments

Mon 27th November 2017 - 06:17

Welcome Everyone!

So great to have you here!!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 09:12

Happy to see OEE again active on the big challenge Open Education !

Sophie TOUZE, President of Open Education Consortium

Tue 28th November 2017 - 11:51

Thank you Sophie! Great to be here!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 11:52

Hello everyone, welcome to this 1hour live discussion on Learning Communities. I am Barry Switnicki an educator from Canada. I am curious, who is here today? Please introduce yourselves briefly.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 11:56

Hello Barry, my name is Rumen Halachev and I work for OEE as an editor. I'm looking forward to your thoughts about the discussion topics.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 11:59

Great to have you here with us Rumen!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:00

hello all, glad I can join you today. I am @warwicklanguage on twitter, an open educational practitioner working as a language teacher at the University of Warwick.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:00

Welcome Teresa!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:01

What is your interest with Learning Communities?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:01

Hello all, my name is Maria Kocsis Baan, I am from Hungary.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:02

Hello Maria!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:03

I am very actively involved in a number on online communities and have investigated communities of practice as part of my work as a learning technologist

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:03

@maria1 Hello Maria

i am curious about your interest into learning communities also

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:03

I am in a bit special situation: I have retired after 40 years of teaching in HE - but I am still active, (and hope to remain) and wish to establish learning communitiy of my age-group.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:05

@maria1 That sounds awesome! Building on shared knowledge, creativity and insight

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:05

@maria1 what a good idea, I have been teaching for 30 years so i guess we are in the same bracket! Do you use social media?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:05

Bit about myself.

I am an educator and educational researcher that has a focus on student engagement and incorporating solution-focused coaching cultures into course design and the classroom. I teach online and face2face primarily in Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:07

I find there seem to be two distinct focuses for a learning community - Professional Learning Communities and Student Learning Communities

I wonder which of these, or both are you focused on ?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:07

I have found twitter a really good channel to connect educators and there are many open twitter chats and connected blogs which support that such as #LHEchat

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:08

@teresamac Thanks Teresa - regarding social media, I am not a fan of it, I prefer focused usage of ICT in education - but lerarning community is the base of connectivist pedagogy and I wish to explore its benefits.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:08

@teresamac I agree Teresa - i also have found twitter great for PLC's and integrating into Student Learning Communities

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:10

@switnicki @teresamac what do you think are the main benefits of learning communities?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:11

@Switnicki seems to be a problem with the link I'm afraid

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:11

@teresamac It is a strange thing: we have followed TOP 100 Learning tools... results and we made a parallel survey, to compare, what tools are used in HUngary. We had two groups from HE and from public education, with both 170 answers - and just a couple of teachers use twitter at all.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:12

@teresamac I will recheck it and repost at the end of the hour - weird as I had checked all links just before we started...

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:12

@louise.c Hi Louise :) I think it helps to have a range of viewpoints and to share inspiration and ideas, also many networks are very supportive and that is vital in an area such as education where there are always barriers and challenges!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:13

@Switnicki Thanks, I will study this resource.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:13

I am just joining the discussion..but gently because I have a broken finger! I am trying to support the development of learning communities for teachers in SE Europe.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:13

@louise.c Great Questions Louise

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” (Confucius, 551


This is what Learning Communities are all about…

Also a primary benefit is engagement which really is what it's all about

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:14

@JAS ouch! hope it heals soon :)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:14

Generally the greater the engagement, the greater the creativity and learning

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:15

@JAS Welcome JAS - sorry about your finger

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:15

Do you have any suggestions on how to increase engagement in learning communities?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:16


Here are some factors that help

To have a successful learning community, according to Bielaczyc & Collins there are four characteristics that such a culture must have:

1) diversity of expertise among its members, who are valued for their contributions and given support to develop, (2) a shared objective of continually advancing the collective knowledge and skills, (3) an emphasis on learning how to learn, and (4) mechanisms for sharing what is learned.

Learning Communities in Classrooms: A Reconceptualization of Educational Practice

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:17

@louise.c I think, it depends on age of learners - for young generation, gamification may work, while for elder people, sharing of own experiences is motivating.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:18

I often find that it comes down to the lowest common denominator.

Easy simple access, an engaged facilitator and mulitple methods of sharing information

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:18

Do you have views about using social media such as Facebook or Twitter vs dedicated networking programmes?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:19

@maria1 @louise.c agreed! critical alignment of participant interests and needs really helps

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:19

@Switnicki I think, point 3 - learning how to learn - is very important and has not been recognised yet.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:20


I think often a blend and also incorporating what the learners are familiar with helps. Of course we need to be aware of confidentiality and privacy concerns

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:21

@maria1 I often find you can go far in helping students to learn with simple guidelines, modeling and an easy invitation to try really helps

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:23

I know with one group of learners I work with i put lots of emphasis on having fun and not worrying about the quality of how they share and post but rather encourage them to focus on the content of their message

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:24

@Switnicki This has made a huge difference for them as they often get hung up on making it look, sound and feel perfect

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:26

I wonder if we might focus for a moment on the basic foundational concepts of a learning community? What would you describe them as being? What is most important to you?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:26

I am wondering how we show teachers in say Albania how useful teachers in say France or Sweden find learning communities..

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:28

Hi everyone, my name is Isabell and I am a research at Danube University Krems (Austria), a university for further education. I am interested in learning communities/ communities of practice, as I find it very important to network with others, work out loud and so on. I am also active on twitter, I use it as a microlearning tool. I think learning communities support micro learning a lot!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:28

@teresamac interesting looking resource Teresa - will have a deeper look after the discussion - thank you!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:29

@JAS Great questions Jas

I am wondering how we show teachers in say Albania how useful teachers in say France or Sweden find learning communities..

What do the rest of you think?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:30

@IsabellGru /i agree about Twitter as a microlearning tool - one I don't use enough

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:30

There are many networks I think. Like Entep for example.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:31

Barry, are you the one who organised this interesting subject on learning communities? because you registered on openeducationeuropa?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:31

Thanks Perrine - will check Entep out

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:32

[by the way thank you for your interesting presentation on Facebook/YouTube...

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:32

@Perrine de Coetlogon Wish I could take the credit Perrine but I was asked to facilitate this by Ecory which works with Open ed Europa

I am a Canadian Ambassador for OEE

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:33

@Perrine de Coetlogon Which presentation is that?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:34

It would be an interesting topic for a survey, how ICT is used for learning in different regions of the world - on one hand, general useage of ICT for personal issues may be quite the same, but I am not sure, that for education/learning purposes we use them in a similar way and level.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:35

@maria1 my guess is that it changes so frequently and rapidly these days that it would be a huge challenge. It helps when there is a clear footprint through a blog for example

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:35

@teresamac My twitter handle is @isabellgru :)

I actually also try to build up a learning community on facebook at the moment, for a EU project I am working at. It'S quite a niche topic, validation of prior learning to support the inclusion of migrant and refugees in Europe in Higher Education and society in general. It is not easy to stirr up the conversation sometimes, but it is slowly growing. I am managing the discussion group and try to improve my work. You can check out the group here:

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:37

@IsabellGru thanks for sharing the FB group! there are so many now perhaps we need to interconnect them :)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:38

@teresamac As I think you mentioned earlier - Google+ can work very well for keeping threads alive and vibrant although it doesn't work in China

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:39

@Perrine de Coetlogon Thank you Perrine - will check out further after the discussion

What a wealth of resources we are creating!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:39

@Switnicki it took me some time to find people on twitter in my field of interest, who also want to share, discuss, etc especially to find the right hashtags/ communities behind hashtags on twitter

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:40

I will also post links to some different articles and studies about learning communities at the end of the hour.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:40

@JAS Thanks so very much JAS!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:41

@teresamac Connecting them would be great! Please come forward if you know other groups I connect my group with. I just saw the function on facebook to "connect" groups lately.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:42

@Switnicki Regarding the great many ideas and resources, we operate now as a very active learning community :-)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:44

Often learning communities are seen as a way to improve courses, especially online course conversions. For me the Big question is how we turn learning communities into a Disruptive innovation. How do we support the group to create learning that is bigger than the facilitators or regular field of thought on the subject

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:47

@teresamac Wish we could all get along and play together. I have been experimenting with using resources available in China and trying to promote with colleagues in the Americas and Europe such as Wechat

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:48

@Switnicki I think it depends on the educational setting and also on the learner's willigness to work out loud. It's kind of cultural, like a culture of learning in an online learning community maybe?

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:49

@teresamac When we use new procedures or technologies there is often a trade-off in effectiveness. With a disruptive innovation you bypass the tradeoff and create something that is new. I can send you more articulate info after we are done here

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:50

@Switnicki tricky isn't it. So rooted in cultural, social and political practices. Personally I wouldn't use Wechat as the data is owned by China. You will see lots of experimentation and research in this area in the language community (CALL) though. Online intercultural Exchange is the filed of research looking at such things, you may find this conference interesting

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:51

@IsabellGru I think you are so correct - getting people to share out loud... encouraging to share without the perception of judgement...

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:52

@teresamac its a trade -off, Wechat - not many of the western apps work in China so you go with what you've got and stay aware of the limitations..

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:54

@teresamac It often gets driven by my students - Wechat in China, Whatsapp in Brazil, G+ in Canada

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:55

@Switnicki In Canada we are often restricted as many of the apps / resources are american owned or american stored which means homeland security/american govt has access also

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:56

@JAS I think it is important to find spaces where people are comfortable and to remain open to personal choices. I rarely use FB for anything other than personal connections, prefer Google (use education suite as it has fewer spiders!)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:56

For me so important for participants to understand the limitations of confidentiality

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:57

@Switnicki also in UK HEIs prefer hosting in Europe or Canada, don't know what will happen post Brexit though...

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:57

@teresamac Totally agree about the comfort aspect and open to personal choices

Tue 28th November 2017 - 12:58

@teresamac Makes it challenging to keep up with the changes. I know that is one reason to have a closed forum for a community - stability

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:00

One of the private colleges I teach for uses a closed blog and the stability is great, Downside is the limitations when it comes to posting different types of files. For examply I still cannot post audio files.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:00

@Switnicki there's kind of a human desire to pin things down, but most communities/cooperatives are fluid, always moving and finding new places to connect.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:01

That can be such a strong disruptive innovation! Utilizing the fluidity

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:01

@Switnicki that is a real shame, I'm a big fan of audio/VOIP! It is data though and with more voice enabled tech being used even for security access to banking it will be even more risky in future I think

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:03

Thank you everyone! I will post some resources and if you have a challenge opening any please email me at [email protected] or SKype me at bestmentor and I will get a better link

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:04

Thanks to you all - I collected a lot of useful links for studying in the future.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:06

Thank you so very much everyone!

My understanding is that the thread will be posted. I look forward to following up on all the resources that you have shared.

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:06

@Switnicki thank you for all the literature, I know what I gonna read in the next days :) :)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:07

Many thanks! Hope the links get sorted :)

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:08

Thank you Barry for moderating this lively discussion and thank you all for participating! Our next OEE chat will be in January on Learner Spaces! Keep an eye out for the discussion date soon!

Tue 28th November 2017 - 13:09

Have to run but will doublecheck them again.

Teresa please let me know which didn't work for you and I will send updated directly to you.

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