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The Call for Articles was distributed at the beginning of November 2002 . We were pleasantly overwhelmed with expressions of interest - 42 submissions from around the world. We reviewed 29 full manuscripts from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, USA, and the UK, which reflected truly international perspectives. Each article received a double blind review. Thus, we are indebted to our team of reviewers for supporting us in the refereeing process:
Ian Brown, University of WollongongThe result is an issue that examines technology supported learning communities from many perspectives.
Robert Fitzgerald, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Courtney Glazer, University of Texas at Austin
Barry Harper, University of Wollongong
Jan Herrington, University of Wollongong (formerly at Edith Cowan University)
Tony Herrington, University of Wollongong (formerly at Edith Cowan University)
Jennifer Jones, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Gordon Joughin, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Koren Mitchell, The University of Melbourne
Cameron Richards, Hong Kong Institute of Education
John Schiller, University of Newcastle
Kirby Wright, University of Alberta
Chris Brook and Ron Oliver examine a design framework for online learning communities. They provide a useful guide to community development in terms of defining reason and context to promote community and mechanisms to facilitate and support member participation.
It is interesting to consider whether it is possible to develop community in a first year university course. Working with first year students, as opposed to experienced students, may involve different challenges in learning communities. Dale Holt, Mary Rice and Christine Armatas provide insights into the possibilities and practicalities for community with psychology students studying both on and off campus.
Mohan Chinnappan provides us with another discipline specific community. The focus in his paper is on how community concepts support practicing teachers' and pre-service teachers' development in mathematics. Of particular note is the use of cognitive tools such as graphic organisers and concept maps to externalise pre-service teacher thoughts about the concept of multiplication. This externalisation provides an insight into the modelling of multiplication and teaching discussed within the online community.
Colin Baskin, Michelle Barker and Peter Woods have examined the concept of community from a broader perspective. They initiated a project that seeks to involve various local community participants in the research and academic activities within a management school.
Judy Sheard, Sita Ramakrishnan and Jan Miller present four case studies of courses delivered across three years of an undergraduate program and a graduate program in computer science. Each case contributes to unique models of proactive and reactive interaction by learners and educators.
Glenice Watson and Sarah Prestridge have developed a networked learning community for practising teachers. This community focuses on development of technology based skills. This article provides a good example of results realised through in depth analysis of the community communications.
Khe Foon Hew and Wing Sum Cheung help us broaden our consideration of community communications in their presentation of models to evaluate asynchronous discussion within learning communities. Three key areas were considered including interactions among online participants, cognitive skills of the learners, and the roles of online moderators. The paper also considers some potential bottlenecks in evaluating online discussion.
All papers are firmly entrenched in learner centred education - learning communities by their nature emphasise this approach. Common to all papers is the 'elusiveness' of defining community and learning community (Brook & Oliver). Certainly each of the papers are context specific as demonstrated by papers in psychology, mathematics, business, staff development, computer science and hypermedia design and development. Their purposes at the content level vary, but their generic educational goals are similar.
Fundamental to the educational experience in each context specific community is the consideration that "knowledge is constructed in a social milieu" (Brook & Oliver). As educators, we want an exchange of ideas, collaboration, sharing of knowledge between members of the community, and an examination of different perspectives, as well as members who take responsibility for the ownership of their ideas in the forum. We also want discussion that allows members to articulate their thoughts and externalise their ideas within the discussion forum, or through visual-spatial representations such as graphic organisers and concept maps. Parallel to this process of externalisation of ideas, we also want participants to internalise the ideas of other members and to reflect on these ideas for their own professional practice.
Interactivity, active participation and social presence within learning communities are also elusive concepts. Active moderators or facilitators use different methods to foster learner-learner interactions and learner-teacher interactions. Through these interactions we want the student and the teacher to be "better connected to their world" (Baskin, Barker & Woods). By emphasising this connection we hope to reduce the isolation of the online environment for distance education students (Sheard, Ramakrishnan & Miller).
Fundamental to the approaches above we want to create a learning community or space that allows not only negotiation, but also allows multiple understandings (Watson & Prestridge).
This issue concludes with an article not derived from our special issue process. Coincidentally, the article next in the queue of AJET's regular flow of submissions for normal issues blends in with this issue's theme of technology supported learning communities. Khine and Lourdusamy discuss their experiences with Conversant Media, a server based application software enabling users to engage in collaborative discussion by attaching notes to video footage. Perhaps it is not an unexpected coincidence, given the more intense research attention now focused upon the melding of 'technology, support, learning and community'.
We hope you enjoy the dialogue in these papers and that there are multiple understandings, negotiation and debate about these issues.
Mike Keppell and Lori Lockyer
http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet.htmlor for manuscript submission contact the Editor, Associate Professor Catherine McLoughlin, School of Education (ACT), Australian Catholic University, PO Box 256, Dickson ACT 2602, Australia. Email: C.McLoughlin@signadou.acu.edu.au, Tel: +61 2 6209 1100 Fax +61 2 6209 1185, or for subscriptions contact the Production Editor, Dr Roger Atkinson, 5/202 Coode Street, Como WA 6152, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +61 8 9367 1133. Members of ASET, ASCILITE and ISPI (Vic) receive AJET as a part of their membership benefits.
AJET is managed by an Editorial Board nominated by ASCILITE and ASET. The 2003 Editorial Board comprises:
Catherine McLoughlin (Editor), Australian Catholic UniversityCopyright in individual articles contained in Australian Journal of Educational Technology is vested in each of the authors in respect of his or her contributions. Copyright in AJET is vested in ASET (1985-86), AJET Publications (1987-1996), and ASET and ASCILITE (from 1997).
Roger Atkinson (Production Editor)
Trish Andrews, University of Queensland
Carolyn Dowling, Australian Catholic University
Mike Keppell, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Lori Lockyer, University of Wollongong
Mary Jane Mahony, University of Sydney
Elizabeth Stacey, Deakin University
© 2003 All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reprinted or reproduced without permission from the publishers. ISSN 0814-673X.
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