community-directed application of learning contracts

February 19, 2007

Last week in iCamp meeting we discussed the role and applicability of learning-contracts in self-directed learning.
Example contracts are not dynamic, but as learning procedure continues the contracts should be updated.

Quite common idea of learning contracts is that they are initially set up for students by teachers to guide the process of achieving certain teacher-defined knowledge and competences.

The learner-defined contracts (e.g. in ePortfolios) facilitated and periodically evaluated by other knowledgeable persons when learning proceeds is another, more self-directed option of the application of contracts which may finalise in obtaining the certificates of professional development in certain area.

In most cases learning does not happen alone and part of the knowledge-building takes place by collaborative effort. This process suggests also the community to build up learning contracts in order to organise and monitore its learning.

In ordinary e-learning settings the group learning contract has been used.

In social software based e-learning systems, the groups have lose boundaries and this kind of contracts may not be applicable. One cannot ask anyone to contribute into the knowledge-building efforts we do in our blogs or other social software based learning environments in self-directed manner.
The public contract would then exist as a distributed intersubjective knowledge of the community members’ learning contracts becoming visible mainly in dynamic intercourse, actions and in the dynamic changes in individual contracts.

Keeping this public unwritten contract is the basis of any functioning activity system, the distribution of labour and the establishment of norms inside the community suggests shared metacognition (and shared activity space), the formation of the ownership of shared meanings and similar intentions (shared meaning space) suggests shared cognition.

shared metacognition

Distributed activity space

About the formation of shared spaces i have written here.

It is quite unclear how the individual learning contracts might be perceived by the lose community members.
However, the result of community-directed learning depends in great deal of how the other people, contributing to the individual knowledge-building would perceive why, what and how the individual is aiming to do and how they act on the basis of their interpretations. Personally, i read the About of the people i find by their blog entries, trying to figure out their aims behind blogging, and i write comments or contribute only if i perceive there is something i could really contribute. On the other hand, there is another trend too…if i am misinterpreted, the OTHERS in the community have the power to distract me on my way, or even reshape my learning contracts..certainly if i let me to be carried with the flows.

The development of an intersubjective awareness of the loose community members who contribute to my learning process, and their knowledgeability for supporting my individual learning intentions (my social capital?), is another issue what needs to be investigated and understood. Can we as community membres TAKE ACTIONS to direct the knowledgebuilding and the flow of freefloating information towards our self-directed intentions and learning contracts?

There were discussions among iCamp’ers which kind of software applications binded together might support the individual and community-directed applicaton of learning contracts as certain kind of monitoring and supporting activities. Could there be individual spaces from where some parts of our learning contracts and their fulfillment would be propagated to the common area as dynamic threads? And how private would people like their learning contracts to be? And who might be facilitating the progress of the fulfillment of individual learning contracts besides professional teachers..can the community members do it?


One comment

  1. […] have elaborated the learning contracts in the community in the previous blog […]

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