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New Technology Supporting Informal Learning

Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada, Institute for Information Technology
Abstract—We often talk about games, simulations and other events in learning, but these technologies support only episodic learning. Equally important are those technologies that provide a context for these learning episodes, an environment where students interact and converse among themselves. This paper describes experimentation in the development of distributed online courses and in software - particularly, the personal learning environment - that support the formation of connections between the far-flung pieces of such courses. This work, in turn, is suggesting and supporting the model of learning described in the first section, that of a course network supporting and informing an ever-shifting set of course episodes. This in turn suggests a pedagogy of participation rather than retention, and even suggests distributed and locally-based forms of evaluation and assessment. Future developments will focus on realizing these concepts as software or at least software prototypes. The intent of such systems is to facilitate the conversation and interaction around episodic learning events in a distributed environment, transforming them from elements in a linear flow-based design to free-floating objects in an environment.

Index Terms—web 2.0, social web, e-learning, personal learning environment (PLE), distributed learning environment, rss, pedagogy of participation  

Cite: Stephen Downes, "New Technology Supporting Informal Learning," Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 27-33, February 2010. doi:10.4304/jetwi.2.1.27-33
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