Learning Communities Are Not Mushrooms - or - How to Cultivate Learning Communities in Higher Education
M. Bos-Ciussi, and G. Rosner. Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators, 2, chapter 14, Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC, (2008)
This chapter looks at advances of Information and Communication Technologies and their effect on learning processes. The study is based on a large sample of students in a business school and the chapter provides a definition of on-line communities, especially in an educational environment. The chapter also addresses the issue of the difference between Networks and Communities, and provides guidance to teachers or professionals who need to create such environments. The main message of this chapter is that social bonds are essential for a community to emerge. This implies a total break with the traditional role of teacher as 'dispenser of knowledge'. One can extrapolate that the role of teacher might move towards that of coach dealing with complex environments and/or problems that require group solutions. The teacher, through course design, must also prepare a fertile environment where learning communities can grow ... in other words, learning communities will not just 'mushroom' in the absence of favourable conditions.