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Social mechanisms to guide the design of peerbased learning environments
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The past decade, various non-profit initiatives have been started with the intention to openly share educational resources, such as syllabi, lecture notes, presentations and videos, software and documentation. These initiatives have been sustained through ongoing investments and funds by individuals and institutions, and content provided by numerous teachers and individual worldwide.

If we consider knowledge to be the result of a negotiation process about references and meaning between individuals, then, we should consider it also a collective or social property. This view underlies numerous initiatives worldwide providing unrestricted online access to educational content, software tools, and implementation resources, commonly referred to as Open Educational Resources. The projects that create, offer, and publish OER have been around for nearly a decade. Sustainability, or the ongoing ability to meet the goals of a project, has always been a major challenge for all of them. Sustainability of OER-projects relate to the ability to provide relevant content, manage the quality, and to initiate and maintain meaningful interactions and incentives between end-users. Strategies to sustain projects range from direct institutional support and management to community facilitation. The Library of Labs is a EU funded project aiming at providing access to remote lab experiments and online simulations through a portal. This paper focuses on how social mechanisms can contribute to both sustainability and learner’s engagement, and describe implications for the design of the online portal.

But how to design such an environment such that people will in fact collaborate, share, and in the end sustain the production, management, and learning from educational resources?

Most top-down organized community initiatives fail to reach momentum, and fade away shortly after inception. This is due to lack of motivation to participate. Because the sustainability of peer-based online learning environments depend on the willingness of individuals to contribute, the design of such a system requires much attention. Understanding of the factors that influence motivation of individuals in online knowledge environments can be used to increase willingness to invest time and share knowledge.

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..to building learning communities
The emergence of open educational resources have laid the foundation for the next step in open education: decentralization of the development and maintenance of learning resources, as well as of learning from learning resources. This is a necessary next step, because an institutional approach for sharing educational resources is not sustainable. Sustainability addresses the following 2 elements 1. continuously being able to produce and share open educational resources; and 2. to sustain the use and reuse of these resources by endusers. The first element of sustainability can be achieved through "the reduction of friction and decentralization, capturing intrinsic motivation of individuals to contribute without financial recompense." (Wiley 2006) Wiley literally states that decentralization means the active involvement of students. Decentralization happens through the peer production of open resources and sharing them in P2P (peer-to-peer) networks (Benkler 2005,Downes 2007). The second element of sustainability concerns the ability to learn from these resources. More than downloading and reading materials, learning implies the co-creation of meaning with others. Open education must therefore focus on online tools and environments to sustain meaningful interactions between peer learners.

There are various descriptive and prescriptive frameworks that relate to the design of social or community software (Preece and Maloney-Krichmar, 2005, Bouwman et al. 2007), community sustainability (Culnan and College, 2008), and drivers of community participation and contribution (Moore and Serva 2007, Kollock 1999, Ardichvili 2008, Yu et al. 2009). Some research focuses explicitly on communities of practice (Moore and Serva, 2007; Ardichvili, 2008) and others more generally on online communities (Preece, 2000; Garfield, 2006; Rashid et al., 2006, Kollock, 1999, etc.). We have created an overview of these findings in order to support the design of a community-based online environment for knowledge sharing and learning. Because many studies point out that social and technical factors need attention in order to enable knowledge sharing (Lee, 2008; Yu et al. 2009; Lee and Choi 2003; Preece, 2000; Hendricks and Vriens, 1999; etc.), the design of such a system addresses technical and social elements.


Designing LiLa

We developed a framework that addresses 12 social mechanisms and can be used to increase motivation and participation, and therefore sustainability of peer-based Open Educational Resources projects. We applied this framework into the design of processes and technology of the EU-funded project called LiLa. “LiLa” is the acronym for the “Library of Labs”, an initiative for the mutual exchange of and access to virtual laboratories and remote experiments. The portal also disseminates and aggregates learning resources and lessons. The design of the portal is based on the concept of active, self-organized, and participative learning. Because funding stops after 3 years, self-organization is seen as instrumental to sustainability. The design is therefore focused on supporting all kinds of self-organization and co-creation of learning and learning resources. The framework has been central to the design of the portal. Per mechanism, we explain and show an example of its application in the portal.
Teachers: SCORM compliancy & teacher tips Content providers: Storage, tools, analytics Students: Personalized learning,peer assessment Student and teacher roles & expertise are defined in the personal profiles. Leadership from within the LiLa consortium, and by active participants. Self-management Self-organization Self-categorization Self-regulation EU project: different cultures Various disciplines


udy se st a

Alignment with user objectives

Leadership & Roles




info ore

Connected ness Networked Learning Profiling


Advanced reputation system based on contributions: assessment reviews, answers on forum, and experiment popularity

Renee said

I have a problem. I cannot start the experiment.. Why do I need a plugin?

Scientific Common Ground & Ontology LiLa conference in 2011

Authors Thieme Hennis & Wim Veen t.a.hennis,w.veen@tudelft.nl

Business Developme nt

Hi there.. I think you first need to download it.

Sofie said

Learning & Networking
LiLa-Project http://lila-project.org Coordinator: Dr. David Boehringer, boehringer@rus.uni-stuttgart.de

Reputation & Identity

Reciprocity & Feedback

Common Ground

Privacy protected at the institution level and with openID EU legislation very strict

Personal profiles Activity stream Analytics

Help and support pages Forum topic "Getting started" See who else is here (institution) Invite others


Sense of community & Accountability


Self-efficacy & Social Comparison

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