Chapter 2

Theories of Learning in Online Communities

This chapter introduces some theoretical ideas that are helpful for understanding online learning communities. The main part of the chapter covers theories of learning, with a focus on learning as a social activity. Theoretical ideas related to online communication and community are also introduced. The chapter moves on to consider several frameworks for understanding and supporting online learning communities.

Chapter contents list:

  1. Theories of Learning
  2. Situated and Authentic Learning
  3. Case Study – Canadian Border Crossing in a Virtual  World: A Simulation in Second Life
  4. Communities of Practice
  5. Social Aspects of Online Learning Communities
  6. The Community of Inquiry Framework 
  7. Case Study – Hope This Helps: Peer Learning Using Discussion Forums
  8. Laurillard’s Conversational Framework
  9. Salmon’s Five-Stage Model
  10. Summary
  11. Key Points for Practitioners
  12. Further Reading
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