Learning community

Learning community

A learning community is a group of people who share common values and beliefs, are actively engaged in learning together from each other. Such communities have become the template for a cohort-based, interdisciplinary approach to higher education. This is based on an advanced kind of educational or 'pedagogical' design [Goodyear, P., De Laat, M., and Lally, V. (2006) Using Pattern Languages to Mediate Theory-Praxis Conversations in Designs for Networked Learning. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, 14,(3), pp211-223.] .

Community psychologists such as McMillan and Cavis (1986) state that there are four key factors that defined a sense of community: “(1) "membership", (2) "influence", (3) "fulfillment of individuals needs" and (4) "shared events and emotional connections". So, the participants of learning community must feel some sense of loyalty and beyond to the group ("membership") that drive their desire to keep working and helping others, also the things that the participant do in must affect what happened in the community, that means, an active and not just a reactive performance ("influence"). Besides a learning community must give the chance to the participants to meet particular needs ("fulfillment") by expressing personal opinions, asking for help or specific information and share stories of events with particular issue included ("emotional connections") emotional experiences [Bonk, C. J, Wisher, R & Nigrelli, M. (2004) Chapter 12. Learning Communities, Communities of practices: principles, technologies and examples in Littlton, Karen, Learning to Collaborate. Nova. USA.] .

Learning communities are now fairly common to American colleges and universities, and are also found in the United Kingdom and Europe.


In a summary of the history of the concept of learning communities, Wolff-Michael Roth and Lee Yew Jin suggest that until the early 1990s, and consistent with (until then) dominant Piagetian constructivist and information processing paradigms in education, the individual was seen as the "unit of instruction" and the focus of research [Roth, W-M. and Lee, Y-J. (2006) Contradictions in theorising and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), pp27-40.] . Roth and Lee claim this as watershed period when, influenced by the work of Jean Lave [Lave, J. (1988) Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.] , and Lave and Etienne Wenger [Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.] among others, researchers and practitioners switched to the idea that knowing and knowledgeability are better thought of as cultural practices that are exhibited by practitioners belonging to various communities [Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989) Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), pp32–42.] [Roth, W.-M., & Bowen, G. M. (1995) Knowing and interacting: A study of culture, practices, and resources in a grade 8 open-inquiry science classroom guided by a cognitive apprenticeship metaphor. Cognition and Instruction, 13, 73–128.] [Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3, pp265–283.] [The Cognition and Technology Group (1994). From visual word problems to learning communities: Changing conceptions of cognitive research. In K. McGilly (Ed.), Classroom lessons: Integrating cognitive theory and classroom practice (pp. 157–200). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.] . Roth and Lee claim that this led to forms of praxis (learning and teaching designs implemented in the classroom, and influenced by these ideas) in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, etc. with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and "participate in the negotiation and institutionalisation of ...meaning". In effect, they are participating in "learning communities". Roth and Lee go on to analyse the contradictions inherent in this as a theoretically informed practice in education.

This analysis does not take account of the appearance of learning communities in the United States in the early 1980s. For example, The Evergreen State College, which is widely considered a pioneer in this area, established an intercollegiate learning community in 1984. In 1985, this same college established the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, which focuses on collaborative education approaches, including learning communities as one of its centerpieces.

Learning communities began to gain popularity at other U.S. colleges and universities during the lat 80s and throughout the 90s. The Washington Center's National Learning Commons Directory has over 250 learning community initiatives in colleges and universities throughout the nation. [ [http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/06_directory_search.asp National Learning Communities Directory Search ] ]

Learning Community Models

There are five basic nonresidential learning community models: (1) linked courses, (2) learning clusters, (3) freshmen interest groups, (4) federated learning communities, and (5) coordinated studies.

Residential learning communities, or living-learning programs, range from theme-based halls on a college dormitory to degree-granting residential colleges. [http://livelearnstudy.net/] What these programs share is the integration of academic content with daily interactions among students, faculty, and staff living and working in these programs [Brower, A.M. & Dettinger, K. (1998) What is a learning community? Towards a comprehensive model. About Campus, (Nov/Dec), 15-21.] .


* Online learning community
* Intergenerational equity
* Youth/adult partnerships

ee also

* Community of practice
* Professional Learning Community


*Smith, B.L., & McCann, J.; Eds. (2001). "Reinventing Ourselves: Interdiciplinary Education, Collaborative Learning, and Experimentation in Higher Education." Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.
*Gabelnick, Faith; MacGregor, Jean; Matthews, Roberta S.; Smith, Barbara Leigh. "Learning Communities: Creating Connections Among Students, Faculty, and Disciplines." "New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 41, Spring 1990.
* [http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/lcfaq.htm#21|What are learning communities?]


External links

* [http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/project.asp?pid=73|Washington Center: National Learning Commons]
* [http://livelearnstudy.net/ National Study of Living-Learning Programs]

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