Tag Archives: Informal learning

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

This article concerns the evaluation of the social capital of the European teachers participating in the eTwinning Portal activities, run by European Schoolnet and characterised by more than 160,000 registered teachers from 35 countries, involved in more than 19,000 projects (2010). This evaluation has been performed by using the Social Network Analysis approach.

The authors found that some correlations can be found "between social network analysis measures like degree and betweenness centrality as well as the local clustering coefficient, activity statistics about usage of eTwinning and the quality management of European Schoolnet".

For the analysis of eTwinning network data, three Learning Analytics tools have been developed:

  • eVa (eTwinning Network Visualization and Analysis), a network visualization and simple analysis tool.
  • CAfe (Competence Analyst for eTwinning), an SNA-based competence management and teachers' self-monitoring tool.
  • AHTC (Ad Hoc Transient Communities) services, which involve users into question-answer activities on the eTwinning Portal.
Citation: M.C. Pham, Y. Cao, Z. Petrushyna, R. Klamma. "Learning Analytics in a Teachers' Social Network" (2012). Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning 2012, ISBN 978-1-86220-283-2 | Url: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2012/abstracts/pdf/pham.pdf

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector:

In this paper, the authors describe very well the issues and the opportunities of management of informal learning at workplace based on technology. Contents of this paper are derived by the experience of TRAILER project.

Authors identify informal learning as the most prominent way of learning at workplace (more than 70% of the total learning), and this is why scientific community and policy makers are trying to explore new approaches and technologies to formalize it.

However, "tracking" informal learning with technology raises some issues:

  • Systems can be rejected by users.
  • Difficulty in promoting the adoption of the approach in day-to-day professional activities.
  • The use of a catalogue of competences for informal learning classification can be seen as a major barrier.

These issues can be partially mitigated by using a more pragmatic approach, in particular by integrating systems with the applications which already formed part of the users working environment.

The authors discuss about the definitions of formal, non-formal and informal learning, suggesting that the distinction among them is more related to the presence or absence of a management process.

The introduction of this management process allows to reach two conditions:

  • The validation of informal learning ensures that individuals are not only assessed on their formal qualifications, but also given credit for the whole range of learning which they have achieved in their lives.
  • Whatever the intentions of their designers may be, competence based systems and systems for the validation of informal learning both inevitably extend the reach of educational management into areas to which it did not previously have access.

Hwever, according to authors and TRAILER project experience, "a high priority in supporting informal learning should be the avoidance of additional management processes".

In this scenario, Data and Learning Analytics could represent a solution, considering that "if it were possible to simply monitor people’s activities and deduce their capabilities from this, then the need to validate items of informal learning might disappear. There are increasing signs that this may be possible".

In the second part, authors describe the structure and functioning of a prototype of a Learning Analytics-based system for informal learning tracking.

Citation: F.J. García-Peñalvo, D. Griffiths, M. Johnson, P. Sharples, D. Sherlock. "Problems and opportunities in the use of technology to manage informal learning". 2014, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Technological Ecosystems for Enhancing Multiculturality (TEEM '14), pp. 573-580. DOI=10.1145/2669711.2669958 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2669711.2669958 | Url: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2669958

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

This paper talks about the introduction of a tool, named Network Awareness Tool, for the investigation of informal learning at workplace. The importance of tools like this is high, considering that "Informal learning is an important driver for professional development and workplace learning. However [...], there is a problem when it comes to making it a real asset within organizations: Informal learning activities are mostly invisible to others, sometimes the learners themselves might not even be aware of the learning that occurs. As a consequence informal learning in organizations goes undetected, remains off the radar of HR departments and is therefore hard to asses, manage and value".

In order to test the tool, a taget group has been selected, composed by teaching professionals working in school organizations. The tool is based on different theories:

  • Networked Learning Theory: "Networked Learning Theory is an emerging perspective that tries to understand learning by asking the question how people develop and maintain a ‘web’ of social relations used for their own and reciprocal learning and professional development".
  • Social Network Theory: "Social Network Theory asserts that the constitution of a network may influence the accessibility of information and resources and that the social structure may offer potential for the exchange of resources". The structure and the dimensions of a social network can be analysed by Social Network Analysis.
  • Social Network Analysis: "According Social Network Analysis a network consists of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within a network and ties are the relationships between the actors. The impact of the structure of social networks can be studied on three levels: first the positions people have in a network (individual dimension), the relational level (ties dimension) and finally the overall network structure (network
  • Social Capital Theory: this theory concerns "the relational resources embedded in social ties and how actors interact to gain access to these resources".
  • Communities of Practice: "the collective advancement of knowledge and the development of shared identities comes together in the community aspect of social learning, which we base on the well known concept of communities of practice".
  • Individual demographics: this is an important aspect to be taken into accounts, considering that "age and years of experience can also have an impact on teachers’ professional development. Senior employees tend to take less initiatives in their professional development".

Thanks to Learning Analytics functionalities, Network Awareness Tool can depict the "actors" involved in the social network and to track the quality and the nature of ties between actors. Also the contents of ties can be tracked using meta-tags. Using Social Network Analysis, Network Awareness Tool can design the social network structure and density, indicating to HR department what topic are particularly relevant for informal learning at workplace.

Citation: B. Schreurs, M. De Laat. 2012. "Network awareness tool - learning analytics in the workplace: detecting and analyzing informal workplace learning". In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK '12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 59-64. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2330601.2330620 | Url: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2330620

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

In this paper, the authors describe a conceptual model for the analysis of informal learning in online social networks for workers, and in particular for health professionals. This work sector has been selected due to its particular characteristics, considering that Staying up-to-date and delivering best evidence-based care is crucial for these professionals, and that they need to be lifelong learners as medical knowledge expands and changes rapidly.

In this environment, "Online social networking (OSN) provides a new way for health professionals to communicate, collaborate and share ideas with each other for informal learning on a massive scale. It has important implications for ongoing efforts to support Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the health professions. However, the challenge of analysing the data generated in OSNs makes it difficult to understand whether and how they are useful for CPD".

The paper explores three approaches for the analysis of OSN: Content Analysis (CA), Social Network Analysis (SNA) and the most innovative one, the Social Learning Analytics (SLA), as a sub-field of Learning Analytics.

The described conceptual model tries to merge the CA and SNA approaches, considering also a survey to evaluate the learning outcome, instead of real clinical data. This model is divided in three sections:

  • Learning interactions: is focused on studying the structure of interactions and the level of and influential factors associated with engagement.
  • Learning process: involves the examination of cognitive presence, social presence, facilitation presence and learning presence.
  • Learning outcome: measures the  social value for online community members, in terms of valued activities, gained knowledge, changed practice, improved performance and redefined success.
Citation: Li, X; Gray, K; Chang, S; Elliott, K; Barnett, S, A conceptual model for analysing informal learning in online social networks for health professionals., Stud Health Technol Inform, 2014, 204 pp. 80 - 85 | Url: https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/43110

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

This paper describes the analytical section of Lear-B (Learning Biosis), a first research prototype to address some of the challenges inherent to workplace learning, such as its informal aspect, the need to support workers in their self-regulatory learning (SRL) processes, the importance of collective and social sharing of the workplace knowledge and its "on-demand" and contextual characteristics.

The authors stress in particular the role of the workplace community in the development of knowledge and the necessity of each individual to develop a correct and useful Self-Regulatory Learning (SRL) approach. These aspects highlights some of the characteristics that a support IT tool should provide, such as:

  • Collection of learning–related contributions and their re-aggregation, analysis to create further new knowledge, as well as sharing results to users.
  • Identification of learning needs for individuals and self-setting of personal learning goals.
  • Monitoring and comparison of users learning progress.
  • Share of users learning experiences.
  • Necessity to integrate data from different tools and services that are used by workers in their everyday working.

In this prototype, Learning Analytics plays an important role: according to the authors, Learning Analytics "allows for the organization to better align its learning objectives with those of its employees by knowing about their learning practic-es; it supports users’ SRL processes by providing them with the necessary input from the social context of the workplace; and it enhances the motivation of individuals to take part in learning and knowledge building activities and sharing their experiences by providing them with feedback from the collective."

The paper describes then the internal environment of Lear-B (which integrates also wiki, social networking and bookmarking functionalities), indicating how the analysis of the platform is albe to enhance knowledge tracking, workers engagement and individual and collective learning improvements.

Citation: M. Siadaty, D. Gašević, J. Jovanović, N. Milikić, Z. Jeremić, L. Ali, A. Giljanović, M. Hatala. Learn-B: A Social Analytics-enabled Tool for Self-regulated Workplace Learning | Url: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2330632&dl=ACM&coll=DL&CFID=768069737&CFTOKEN=86753107

Type: Evidence | Proposition: A: Learning | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

This evidence was extracted from a paper coming from the 15th International Conference on Knowledge Technologies and Data-driven Business (i-KNOW 2015), held in Graz (Austria) last 21st – 22nd October 2015.

In this paper, authors describe a framework, named Social Semantic Server (SSS), that can constitute a flexible tool for the support of informal learning in different workplace scenarios.

The development of this tool is based on the assumption that “individual knowledge is constructed through collaborative knowledge building […][and that] a knowledge base is co-constructed by a community of learners as a result of their activities mediated by shared artefacts”. This implies that learners community can be considered as a Distributed Cognitive System, and that the process of meaning construction in this environment can be defined as “Meaning Making”.

SSS was developed considering several Design Principles, and among them several learning KPIs can be found, such as tracking of physical, time, social and semantic context of user-artefact and user-user interactions or tracking of history of network interactions. This network, thanks to Learning Analytics, can represent a good source of understanding what kind of information the users are searching for and new trends in the Meaning Making process.

In the second part of the conference paper, several services of SSS were described, namely metadata degrees of formality, tracking of users interaction, search engine, recommendations tool, knowledge structures, Q&A environment, access restrictions and collections and aggregation of learning inputs inside the framework.

The last part of the paper was dedicated to three case studies, which depict how SSS can represent a flexible tool for the generation of informal learning environments at the workplace. Three different IT tool were generated based on some of the SSS services described above, for the informal learning of healthcare professionals (Bits & Pieces), academic researchers (KnowBrain, currently under development) and future teachers training (Attacher). During these case studies, the context of the collected, generated or modified resources were tracked and analysed through dedicated KPIs, which were author, time of collection and the set of attached tags for Attacher, while for B&P and KnowBrain also categories, ratings and discussions were available. As indicated in the paper, “This contextual characteristics can be exploited to create networks of actors and artefacts, as well as to make Learning Analytics”.

Citation: Dennerlein, S., Kowald, D., Lex, E., Theiler, D., Lacic, E. & Ley, T. (2015). The Social Semantic Server: A Flexible Framework to Support Informal Learning at the Workplace. 15th International Conference on Knowledge Technologies and Data-driven Business (i-KNOW 2015), Graz, Austria | Url: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/280920425_The_Social_Semantic_Server_A_Flexible_Framework_to_Support_Informal_Learning_at_the_Workplace