Things can change as I get more into the literature, but the plan for my DPhil at the moment is to do something about informal learning in communities within a virtual world context.
The next task is to put together a proper literature review. This will be accompanied by making a plan for the next 12 months including what I am actually doing as opposed to just defining areas of interest and reading a lot of stuff.
The areas to be addressed in the literature review will be:
- What makes a community – what is meant by the term community?
- community development models and literature (looking at the literature from the 60’s and 70’s and possibly earlier as well as more recent stuff)
- online communities, both 2D and 3D and the sense of place and presence found in these communities – are online communities really communities (thinking of argument we had in my OU tutor group).
- communities of interest – people bound together out of common interests/hobbies/challenges/disabilities/etc rather than people who live in proximity to each other
- learning communities – both Wenger’s communities of practice and the community of inquiry model from Athabasca
- What is informal learning? (Might be useful to also look for a working definition of learning per se)
- Recent government white paper and the preceding consultation process
- Various older NIACE documents, including the McGivney stuff if I can get hold of it
- Colley’s work on formality and informality as aspects of all learning
- Peer group learning
- possibly child development in some way – could tie into Self Determination Theory and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (which I was thinking about in the Ecolab presentation around competence and achievement focus/drivers)
- What constitutes a virtual world?
- should be possible to draw on work I’ve done for DELVE and other things I’ve been reading, including the various ethnographic studies in Second Life
- To include or not to include 2D virtual worlds (interesting thoughts around SLED as a community of peer group learners)
I do need to give some thought to why this matters rather than just being something that interests me. Initial thoughts include:
- The diatribes on virtual worlds and social networking from Susan Greenfield – are kids brains being fried and kids being turned into anti-social zombies or are they participating in learning experiences. If the latter, what?
- Government white paper talks about informal learning, but context seems to be as pathway to formal learning or to employment or both, with no real value on informal learning for its own sake.
- There is a lot of formal learning in 3D worlds, but there seems to be an element of informal learning underpinning this some of the time, SLED for example. that informal learning may be in a variety of places. If the forms informal learning takes can be identified, it might be possible to use it more formally in scaffolding learning experiences. (This sounds a bit counter to what I think I am interested in if I am saying informal learning should be valued for itself.)
- Informal learning seems to have links to Self Determination theory – competence, autonomy – and community is to do with relatedness. Would be neat to be able to tie this together and say something about the importance of intrinsic motivation.
In the meantime, a couple of possible representations of what I want to look at. I suspect the second is nearer the mark, but another area for more work.