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Complex Learning

A way for rethinking Pedagogies and Processes in Technology-Enhanced learning and Education

Laura Vettraino (Author) Eleonora Guglielman (Author)

Learning Community srl Learning Community srl
Rome, Italy Rome, Italy
e-mail: e-mail:

Marco Guspini (Author) Valentina Castello (Author)

educommunity Educational Community Universit degli studi dellAquila
Rome, Italy LAquila, Italy

Abstract Rethinking Pedagogy and learning processes: that enhanced learning environments. Indeed in the web mediated
is necessary since WEB 2.0 modifies the learning learning environments there is something that cannot be
environments, make educational experiences more complex reduced to the "face to face" learning spaces and
and enrich learning strategies. Nevertheless pedagogic theories experiences.
and didactic approaches, inherited by the consolidated face to If we really want to rethink Pedagogy and identify a new
face" teaching, continue to be applied to the net-learning, still possible interpretative key of complex technology enhanced
using conceptual categories like: virtual classrooms, e-books, e- learning experiences, it is necessary to identify and focus on
tutor, e-contents, learning objects, interactive blackboards, the specificity of web mediated learning processes.
evaluation tests. That is, probably, the reason why web 2.0 and
Consequently, it will be possible to find effective
e-learning 2.0 often do not work and are ineffective even if they
represent the vanguard of web mediated learning. The present
paper proposes Complex Learning as a possible theoretical key II. WHAT COMPLEX LEARNING IS NOT
of analysis fit with the changed scenarios, able to show a way to
meet the challenge of rethinking Pedagogies and learning In order to understand the efficacy of Complex Learning,
processes. as a rethought Pedagogy, it is necessary to understand how
learning processes are rethought too.
Rethinking Pedagogies and Porcesses in technology The main way, in order to understand this required
enhanced Learning;Technology enhanced Science Education; cultural and practical change, is to explain what is not
Social Computing for Learning and Knowledge Sharing. Complex Learning. Complex Learning is not a structured
course with predefined trainers, learning classrooms,
I. INTRODUCTION contents, modules, units, evaluation sessions; it is not the
negation of known and usual teaching and learning
Rethinking Pedagogy and learning processes: that is
processes; it is not a group work, a cooperative work, a
necessary since WEB 2.0, e-learning 2.0 and social
project work; it is not an individual experience of learning; it
networking modify the learning environments, make
is not a spontaneous process.
educational experiences more complex and enrich learning
strategies. Nevertheless pedagogic theories and didactic III. WHAT COMPLEX LEARNING IS
approaches, inherited by the consolidated face to face"
teaching, continue to be applied to the net-learning, using Complex Learning [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] is a new pedagogical
conceptual categories like, for example: virtual classrooms, domain [6].
e-books, learning units, e-tutor, e-contents, learning objects, The term complex explains the complexity of the
interactive blackboards, evaluation tests. That is, probably, dynamics that happen thanks to the added value represented
the reason why web 2.0 and e-learning 2.0 often do not work by the re-configuration among the different typologies of
and are ineffective even if they represent the vanguard of learning models, new links and new hierarchies among
web mediated learning. media, new languages and new interaction way, therefore
The paradigms of "face to face" teaching, widely applied remediation [7].
to the web, can only limitedly explicate the web mediated In Complex Learning the objects look no more closed
learning process and, consequently, they allow only in part to and self-referential, but they bring the sign of the
support and animate them satisfactorily. transformations they sustain by virtue of the interaction with
Some courage and an open attitude, oriented to change, and among the subjects who change and build them and no
are necessary in order to take advantage from the technology more only enjoy them.
The subjects role changes, its not fixed once and for all: A. General attitudes of participants
everyone can express his competence and his tutorship in In the analyzed interactions, learners tend to apply to
relation to the field he/she has an expertise. The participation web-mediated learning the learning routines consolidated in
to this process by all people taking part in the dialogue space face to face learning experiences.
leads to go beyond the course enclosure, putting the learning They tend to: reply a "one to one" pattern of
experience in a multiplicity of concrete and virtual places, communication instead of "many to many", addressing a
inhabited places, that become real places. message to a specific interlocutor; answer only questions
A Complex Learning Community grows in this multi- directly addressed; state a point of view, in a single episode,
dimensional environment, where the learning process reflects without really searching interaction or coming into dialog.
the complexity of real world and the social relations that take A second and indicative behavior is the tendency to
place in it: multiple interactions among people, technologies, accept to actively interact when a synchronous virtual
purposes, environments where they move and act [8]. meeting is planned at a specific time and date with a specific
To better understand what Complex Learning means it is invitation, instead of taking advantage of asynchronous
necessary to answer a key question: "how learning opportunities of interaction.
approaches change when plunged in the web?" or better The third tendency is to assume a passive position of
"how learning approaches change when plunged in the lurking more then taking initiative, or when they take
network of, human and technologic, formal and informal, initiative, they search the interaction with the Tutor.
real and virtual interconnections empowered by the web?" Finally, the expectation of ordinate and pre-ordinate
Four case studies offered a practical way in order to answer learning contents, units, objects, can be highlighted among
these questions: indicative general attitudes of participants.
TRAMPI - National Training Centre of MIUR a This is normally the starting point. People usually adopt
web community aimed to train at a distance 11.000 what is familiar and known in order to afford change: web-
people in charge for the accounting in the public mediated learning environments and experiences indeed
school (2001)[9]; require a change. At this previous stage, verbal behaviors are
COMUNET - Community network of Third Sector's static, generic and do not really add any knowledge to the
operators (2006) [10]; interaction.
INDIRE PuntoEdu a national Community of public
school teachers aimed to improve the development B. Verbal behaviors generating learning interactions;
and implementation of technological didactic Already at this starting stage, also meaningful verbal
solutions (2008) 11]; behaviors, indicative of learning interactions, have been
DEEPER Community an European web community identified.
of operators dealing with refugees and asylum These behaviors are: participants ask questions connected
seekers (2011) [12]. with daily work activities; a colleague gives an answer to a
Learning behaviors have been analyzed through a general question connected with daily work activities; a personal
observation, in two of the cited experiences, and in the others experience is proposed as example of a possible solution; a
two they have been analyzed through a systematic participant asks for a clarification; a participant integrates the
observation, supported by the collection of quantitative data answer given by a colleague; participants share tools of
and statistical analysis. work, participants identify experts "de facto" to refer to.
A large sample of messages (at least 4.000 messages) It is also possible to identify learning process in these
was analyzed; interactions have been observed for a period verbal behaviors, if we intend learning as: the application of
of at least one year to three years; data have been extracted a knowledge to a different context, the creation of
from databases of asynchronous learning network connections between contents or situations apparently
interactions and have been recorded so that whenever they divergent, the integration and completion of contents, the
can be checked and revised. finding of practical solutions, the formulation of an
In order to check the increasing of learning, the hypothesis of work, the flexibility in assuming different
interactions have been categorized as verbal behaviors; points of view about the same problem, the adaptation of an
sequential analysis [13] [14] was the adopted technique; existing tool or solution to a new problematic situation.
conditional and transitional probability were calculated in These particular verbal behaviors, then, can represent the
order to find eventual operative connections among specific master key for the activation of a collective productive
interactions in particular conditions and circumstances. dialog, generative of learning.
The analysis of the collected data shows some key items: The initial general attitudes, previously described,
a) general attitudes of participants; actually tend to evolve from a sort of "collective monologue"
towards an effective networking learning interaction.
b) verbal behaviors generating learning interactions;
c) steps of development of the learning community's C. Steps of development of the learning communitys
interactions. interactions
Actually, the studied cases show roughly a common
development scheme [15]. This development is at the same
time sequential and reticular: the lifecycle of the learning
group, during the line of the time, is sequential and follows Complex Learning represents a possible theoretical key of
progressive phases; yet the development of the relationship analysis and a Pedagogic paradigm fit with this complexity
among the members of the Community is a reticular and not and able to show how to meet this challenge.
linear process.
One year is the basic time required in order to observe the REFERENCES
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