Web 2.0 Networked Learning Community Launch and Overview

Please note: this network now has a new name - 'Connected Learning Community' - and a new, dedicated Connected Learning Community wikispace.

This is the wiki-based presentation for the launch of the Web 2.0 Networked Learning Community (tentative title), a project funded by the 2006 E-learning Networks Project, part of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

Time: 8pm - 9pm Tuesday 16th May, 2006 (Sydney time)
Venue: 2006 E-learning Networks Project Elluminate Online Presentation Room

To play back the archived Elluminate session:

Alternatively, you can listen to an MP3 recording of the session (13.6 MB, 1hr) and follow along with this wiki. You can also view the archived text chat from the Direct Messaging window.


The Team

Photo by Alexander Hayes
Larger pic with names

  • Sean FitzGerald - Consultant/Researcher/Presenter
  • Diana Khabbaz - CEO Manager Innovation, TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute
  • Barbara Campbell - SEO Learning and Innovation, TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute

The "Start-up" team:

And of course - You! - see How to Participate in the Network

Network Description

A Community of Practice (CoP) with the purpose of exploring Web 2.0 technologies in education and related learning theories, such as Connectivism and Networked Learning.

Based on peer-to-peer learning principles, the network will provide an opportunity for members to share skills and knowledge and mentor each other in new tools, practices and concepts.

The network will be built on the open web using Web 2.0 tools, modelling the process of creating networked learning communities based on personalised learning environments, thereby reflecting the underlying philosophy of learner-centred, self-organising, egalitarian networks.


The Web 2.0 Networked Learning Community has evolved out of the Online Mentoring Network (OMN).

The OMN was set-up in 2005 to explore the tools and methods of mentoring and coaching online. It was found that there was a real need to explore emerging technologies in a supportive mentoring environment.

As new theories such as Networked Learning were explored it become apparent that to fully explore that model the network would have to move from the relatively closed environment of the EdNA group onto the open web using loosely-coupled, distributed Web 2.0 tools.

The OMN will continue and be used to introduce and support basic tools, while the new network will be used to explore more advanced tools and concepts.

The initial planning stages of the new network will take place on the OMN EdNA group in the 2006 Network Planning Forum.


  • To explore Web 2.0 tools and their impact on education, teaching and learning. This includes investigating related learning models such as the Connectivism and Networked Learning.
  • To explore and model the process of creating online networks, learning communities and CoPs using these tools. Specifically the practice of forming Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) centred around Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) built using Web 2.0 tools.
  • To explore and address the changing role of the teacher from subject matter expert (or “Sage on the Stage”) to facilitator of student-centred, self-directed learning (“Guide on the Side”) and to offer support and mentorship to practitioners transitioning into using emerging tools and the new learning paradigm.
  • To define and address the various challenges to the implementation of Web 2.0 technologies and related learning models including resistance and objections that come from institutions, teachers, management, IT departments (e.g. Internet safety & child protection, privacy & confidentiality, copyright, libel, accessibility, technology access & the digital divide, standards/assessment/accreditation)
  • To develop strategies for introducing the tools and new learning models to teachers, educational managers.

Possible Outcomes

  • Position paper for TAFE NSW Information Technology Directorate to promote the the use of Web 2.0 tools and new learning models and to address issues such as institutional support, IT support, firewall issues, adequate professional development etc.


  • Learner-centred & self-directed
  • Inclusive & non-discriminatory
  • Consultative & collaborative
  • Self-organising
  • Collective intelligence/wisdom of crowds
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Egalitarian & non-hierarchical
  • Co-learning & co-mentorship - we are all learners
  • Spirit of sharing - open content
  • Transparency and openness
  • All opinions valued
  • Mistakes are OK
  • Spirit of play and fun


What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a term that means many things to many people. Many even dispute it's validity. Some say it's nothing more than hype.

Sean's definition:
  • "A second generation of web-based applications and services that make it easy to create, distribute and share content (often collaboratively), while helping users find and connect with like-minded people and form social networks based on common interests. It is also described as the Read-Write web."

Although often used to describe the technologies involved like blogs, wikis and podcasts, it describes more than this - it also describes a fundamental cutural shift that will have implications for education.

Key Characteristics
  • From medium for consumption to platform for creation - the Read-Write web
  • Web-based services - applications move from the desktop to the web
  • Platform and device independent - mobile devices
  • Easy content creation, publishing and distribution
  • Disintermediation - cutting out the middle man
  • Decentralisation of power
  • User-generated content - users provide the data
  • Users in control of their data
  • Personalisation/customisation
  • Collaboration - e.g. wikis, Wikipedia
  • From static to dynamic content
  • Distribution of services and content (microcontent)
  • Mashups - combinations of services
  • Harness collective intelligence/wisdom of the masses
  • Sharing & gift economy - Creative Commons

For a more detailed explanation of Web 2.0 including an expanded version of these characteristics see: What is Web 2.0?.

Web 2.0 Resources

The Personal(ised) Learning Environment

What is a PLE?

There are two ways the term "PLE" is used:
  1. Software, usually e-portfolio software such as Elgg - http://elgg.net/
  2. A collection of free, distributed, web-based tools, usually centred around a blog, linked together and aggregating content using RSS feeds, simple scripts or APIs

An alternate, higher-level, definition is provided here:
"Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to:
  • set their own learning goals
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning
and thereby achieve learning goals." (definition by Mark van Harmelen, June 2006).

We are using the web-based approach to PLEs, which may look something like this:

Picture by Derek Wenmoth. Larger image
(Based on the very famous image by Scott Wilson)

Creating a PLE
  • Select an 'online presence' - typically a blog (Update: see Choosing an Online Presence)
  • The tools - blogs, wikis, personal start pages, photo-sharing sites, video-sharing sites, podcasts, moblogs, social bookmarking sites, RSS aggregators, online calendars, frappr maps etc.
  • Linked together using link rolls, blog rolls, embedded scripts - rss feeds, flickr badges, del.icio.us link lists & tag clouds, frappr maps, clustr maps etc.


The best way to get a sense of a PLE is to look at some examples. Check out the content emdedded in the sidebars of the blogs of these edubloggers:

  • Learner/user centred
  • Learner is in control of their content/data
  • Learner has a sense of authorship & ownership
  • Learner develops a persistent identity over time
  • Learner can customise based on individual preferences, learning styles etc.

Personal Learning Networks

Image of George Siemens' network using Touchgraph
Larger image
  • A self-selected network of people and resources that support our learning.
  • The individual learner is at the centre of their learning network(s).
  • The networks are informal and ad-hoc.
  • Completely voluntary - the learner can join and leave networks as they choose.
  • A learner can have multiple overlapping learning networks.
  • The learner is a part of other people's learning networks.
  • The network is formed by engaging in conversations and creating connections through linking to other learners and resources, commenting on other people's blogs etc.

Related Learning Theories

  • Constructivism & Social Constructivism
  • Constructionism (Seymour Papert)
  • Connectivism (George Siemens)
  • Networked Learning
  • Informal, "just in time" & work flow learning
  • Lifelong/lifewide learning
  • Unschooling, Deschooling & Natural Learning
  • Critical Pedagogy

Networked Learning

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Networked_learning
  • "Networked learning is the use of Information and Communications Technology (such as the Internet) to establish and maintain connections with people and information to support each other's learning, hence - a networked learning. It is relating to the learning theory Connectivism."

In practice, the term "Networked Learning" - as used by Leigh Blackall, Steven Downes and others - describes the process of exploring web-based, media-rich, open content, then remixing that content using free, web-based tools and/or open source software to generate new content - and new understandings and meaning in the process - and then freely sharing that new content and knowledge with others.

Traditional elearning often uses Learning Management Systems (LMSes) to manage learning (and learners), thereby mimicking the traditional teacher/class/course/institution-centred approach. Networked Learning takes a user/learner-centred approach, hence the choice of distributed tools.

n.b. Networked Learning doesn't really require technology - whenever we tap into and share the resources, knowledge, wisdom, mentorship and support of our human networks, networked learning is occuring. Networking technology just makes it easier to do that in a fragmented, populous world.

Resources on Networked Learning

Action Plan

  • Decide on the network name & where/what the online presence will be (e.g. blog). This will occur on the Online Mentoring Network forum. (Update: The new name is the 'Connected Learning Community' and it was decided to use Blogger as the online presence.)
  • Choose a tag for the network (based on the name) to be used with applications that support tagging such as del.icio.us, flickr etc. (Update: the tag is 'clcommunity'.)
  • Decide whether we need forums and/or a mailing list.
  • Set-up the online presence for the project. (Update: Connected Learning Community Blog)
  • Set-up a wiki for resources. (Update: Connected Learning Community Wiki)
  • Regular posts/tutorials/presentations on various tools and how to link them together and integrate them into an online presence to create a PLE.
  • Continue to explore other Web 2.0 tools and related learning theories and their impact on education through ongoing discussions and presentations.
  • Develop strategies, recommendations etc.

How is the Network Formed?
  • As there is no technological method of registering (as in joining a mailing list or EdNA group) membership is self-defined.
  • The user/learner creates and defines their own learning network.
  • Completely voluntary.
  • The Network is formed through linking, comments & trackbacks and having conversations.

How to Participate in the Network

Since there is no EdNA group or mailing list to join it's up to you...

What's Needed to Become a Member of the Network?
  • A willingness to learn and take responsibility for your own learning.
  • A willingness to be a self-directed learner.
  • An eagerness to learn about new tools and technologies.
  • A willingness to share your knowledge and resources and to mentor others.


  • Getting people involved and keeping them informed (i.e. getting people to subscribe to the RSS feed)
  • Lack of technology access or IT support
  • Lack of skills and professional development

Next Steps (at the time of the May 16th launch)

  • Decide on a name for the network
  • Decide on an online presence (Blogger? Elgg.net? Edublogs.org?)
  • Choose a tag for the network (based on name) to be used with applications that support tagging such as del.icio.us, flickr etc.


Networked Learning on the Web

The last ten URLs saved at del.icio.us and tagged with "networkedlearning":

    Full list of URLs saved to del.icio.us and tagged with networkedlearning