Curran, Sheila and Golding, Tyrrell
Moving from the periphery to the centre: promoting conversation and developing communities of practice in online environments’.
In: Renewing the tradition: sustaining and sustainable communities through informal education, 9-11 July 2012, Brathay Hall, Cumbria.
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The last decade has witnessed significant growth in the use of digital technologies. These changes have impacted on learning and teaching in Higher Education and also impacted on youth workers’ professional practice and the lives of the young people they are working with.
What are the implications of this growth in digital technologies, which includes the development of virtual learning environments, for the professional education of youth workers studying in Higher Education? To what extent do digital technologies present new opportunities for pedagogical innovation and provide opportunities for students to become part of a wider, networked community of peers? How can the potential benefits of online learning environments be harnessed to promote conversation, develop professional communities of practice and support students’ in developing their professional identities as youth workers? And what are the implications of the growing use of learning technologies for the practices of academics teaching on youth and community courses? How can they enhance their skills in teaching and providing support for students in online environments, building on their skills and experience in promoting conversation in their face-to-face engagement with students?
In this paper the authors will draw on a range of research on students’ engagement with technologies and on the way they make use of it to support their learning, as well as their experiences of teaching on the Open University’s BA (Hons) in Youth Work. Issues to be explored will include what ‘participation’ might mean and look like in an online learning environment; the extent to which digital literacy might be a widening participation issue; and the development of online identities.
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