Termites in the schoolhouse: stigmergy and transactional distance in an e-learning environment

Jon Dron

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

Abstract

Transactional distance theory predicts an inverse relationship between dialogue and structure in an educational transaction. It is a powerful theory, but it may have exceptions. This paper discusses a class of computer-based educational environments that anomalously seem to combine both high dialogue and high structure. In such systems the behavior of users changes their environment, which in turn causes changes in the behavior of its users. Such processes are a form of stigmergy, a word originally used to describe this effect in termites, where it coordinates the formation of termite mounds. Stigmergy in an e-learning environment can enable a self-organized structure to arise out of dialogue, simultaneously providing both high and low transactional distance. Environments built this way may be very flexible learning spaces. A number of exemplars embodying the principle are described, followed by an exploration of unresolved issues and directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2004
EditorsL. Cantoni, C. McLoughlin
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Computing in Education
Pages263-269
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)1880094541
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventProceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2004 - Lugano, Switzerland, 21-26 June, 2004
Duration: 1 Jan 2004 → …

Conference

ConferenceProceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2004
Period1/01/04 → …

Keywords

  • e-learning
  • online learning

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