Communication for learning: Too much choice?

Susan Greener

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


    Whether we are lovers of constructivism or connectivism, or at heart just plain old rewarders of good behaviour, as university teachers we often aim to develop collaborative communication amongst and within learning groups as part of what we see as sense-making and learning. The benefits of communication mediated by good teachers is widely discussed in the literature, especially in relation to technology enhanced or online learning (Laurillard 1993; Mason 1994; Su et al. 2005; Kim 2008). But of course such collaborative communication has been practised for generations in the classroom by those who consider one-way lecturing an outdated and constraining practice. George Siemens' perspective of connectivism moves us towards a concept of knowledge residing in networks which will not be wholly internalised or known by individuals, but which relies on the development of appropriate connections and the ability to evaluate worth within an abundance of knowledge (Siemens 2004). Technology plays a large role here, whether we are talking about "learning in education", "learning in work" or "lifelong learning". So what role can technology-enabled communication play in helping learners learn? This paper seeks to review the currently favoured methods of communicating between teachers and students in the specific context of Higher Education, in order to determine which methods may be useful in which contexts of learning. As teachers, we have to decide where to expend energy and time to best result amongst the different communication options now available. Five principal communication channels are analysed: email groups used outside a Learning Content Management System (LCMS), discussion forums used within LCMS, synchronous conferencing (or livechat) within LCMS, wikis within LCMS based on ELGG software, and group blogs within LCMS based on ELGG software. While these five channels represent different stages of communications technology (CT) and do not include webconferencing, it is proposed that a brief reflective analysis of these increasingly commonly available CTs will allow us to explore their value in learning and opportunities for collaboration. Affordances of these CTs are found to include variations of structural fit to expected communication outcomes, and power and identity of communicators, as well as defined purpose, are seen to produce different results depending on the chosen channel of communication.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009
    PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9781622767076
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
    Event8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009 - Bari, Italy
    Duration: 29 Oct 200930 Oct 2009

    Publication series

    Name8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009


    Conference8th European Conference on eLearning 2009, ECEL 2009


    • CMC
    • Communication
    • Higher education
    • Teaching


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