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LKL Workshop 12 September 2007


Presentation by Peter Day  

Debate 3: If you are a teacher, trainer or involved in community learning are you looking for ways by which students can assist with the design of their learning environment?


This discussion seeks to promote an active and ongoing dialogue about how communities learn and how such learning might be stimulated and sustained. It is taken as axiomatic that community is understood as a set of diverse, often contested, social spaces from which both positive and negative social shaping influences can and do emerge.


1) Context: Community Learning


  • Learning in communities is not restricted to individuals but occurs at a range of levels across the community structure, e.g. family, groups, clubs, organisations, places of worship and networks.
  • Community learning is embedded in and shaped by the social and physical environment of the community and the nature of relationships within the community (Lave & Wenger, 1991).
  • Community learning draws on the practices associated with the active participation of diverse stakeholders and the empowerment of groups whose voices are too often silenced within dominant social, economic and political institutions, relationships and practices.
  • The perspectives of community learners are rich and diverse. Learning needs require the emphasis of community, culture, and ethics as well as the traditional educational components of knowledge acquisition, content, and skills (Boettcher, 2007). 


2) Community learning is guided by four components


  • open participation
  • building dialogue
  • information sharing; and
  • networking


  1. What engagement strategies are required to promote community learning?
  2. How can dialogue between diverse social stakeholders in contested social spaces be encouraged and sustained to promote community learning?
  3. What is the significance of trust building to these processes?
  4. How do diverse stakeholders make sense of their learning needs and apply what they learn to the benefit of the community?


3) Current work on community learning


  • Participatory Learning Workshops (PLWs) are designed to provide and share knowledge of and skills in the use of communication technologies and community networking.
  • PLWs provide fora for contextualised discussion of community communication application design considerations and needs.
  • PLWS provide a platform for participatory design of community communication spaces (community network).


4) PLW typology




  • Static – classroom/ICT suite based
  • Mobile – located in familiar community contexts and spaces
  • Scenario – problems solving through coalitional network thinking


5) PLWs contributing to community development and empowerment


Communication technologies are viewed as learning tools, media (spaces, and processes for building social capital

Stimulate community learning through:


  • Information sharing and communication
  • Participation – e.g. involvement in community communication space design
  • Stimulating dialogue – building weak network ties
  • Networking – process and structure
  • Critical reflection and analysis


Communities generate content suitable for the social and cultural contexts they generate.

Support community organisation, activities and action.



BOETTCHER, J. 2007. Ten Core Principles for Designing Effective Learning Environments: Insights from Brain Research and Pedagogical Theory. Innovate 3 (3). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=54 (accessed February 5, 2007).

LAVE, J. and WENGER, E. 1991. Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

NIELSEN, C. 2002. Community Learning: Creating a Sustainable Future through Critical Awareness. Development Bulletin (58), pp. 102-105. Special issue: Environmental Sustainability and Poverty Reduction: Pacific Issues, edited by Pamela Thomas.


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