Virtual Learning Communities

This research is supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

This research program examines the fundamental components and characteristics of virtual learning communities in formal and non-formal learning environments with the aim of developing a model of virtual learning communities that is grounded in practice. When educators attempt to develop virtual learning communities, a number of issues emerge. Some issues are financial and logistic—how does one assemble the technological and personal systems necessary to construct and maintain a communication system? But the more important questions seem to centre on the design, implementation, pedagogy and effects of virtual learning communities, the socio-educational aspects of learning through this means of communication.

This program of research addresses two fundamental questions:

    1. Do elements of physical communities exhibit themselves in virtual learning communities, and do they inform our understanding of how these communities contribute to learning environments?
    2. How do contextual, pedagogical, social and cultural issues influence participation in virtual learning communities?

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