Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Role of Community

To start with, it is imperative to define a learning community as a nurturing environment in which a person can learn assisted by other members and by a leader who guides the processes. The most important here is not the transmission of knowledge but the generation of knowledge through interaction. This is because knowledge changes so rapidly that what you know today may be obsolete tomorrow. Therefore, long life learning should be promoted from the community.

In a learning community there should be a variety of spaces which guarantee that everyone has the opportunity to share and expand their learning strategies. As mentioned before, the learning takes place more from interaction than from the teaching practices. From that perspective, the teacher is more a facilitator and a guide. In a virtual community, the teacher should design the appropriate spaces for learners to interact meaningfully and express their ideas in a critical way.

Despite all the benefits offered by a learning community, it is important to take into account the possible disadvantages presented by them so as to avoid that some members lag behind. Among these factors is the possibility that not all members have the same opportunities to participate, the lack of direct feedback, students with low motivation may not be taken into account, lack of an appropriate follow up process and so on.

In sum, learning communities represent a great opportunity for the generation and exchange of knowledge in a “safe” environment as long as it provides the suitable conditions that ensure the advancement of every learner.

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