, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 31–36 | Cite as

Open online spaces of professional learning: Context, personalisation and facilitation

  • Peter Evans


This article explores professional learning through online discussion events as sites of communities of learning. The rise of distributed work places and networked labour coincides with a privileging of individualised professional learning. Alongside this focus on the individual has been a growth in informal online learning communities and networks for professional learning and professional identity development. An example of these learning communities can be seen in the synchronous discussion events held on Twitter. This article examines a sample of these events where the interplay of personal learning and the collaborative components of professional learning and practice are seen, and discusses how facilitation is performed through a distributed assemblage of technologies and the collective of event participants. These Twitter based events demonstrate competing forces of newer technologies and related practices of social and collaborative learning against a rhetoric of learner autonomy and control found in the advocacy of the personalisation of learning.


assemblage community professional learning social media Twitter 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ala-mutka, K. (2009). Review of Learning in ICT-enabled Networks and Communities. Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, JRC, European Commission. EUR 2406.Google Scholar
  2. Barad, K. (2003). ‘Posthumanist performativity: toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The New Social Learning. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Bradley, A. J., & MacDonald, M. P. (2011). Social media versus knowledge management. Retrieved September 26, 2013, from
  5. Bruns, A., & Stieglitz, S. (2013). Towards more systematic Twitter analysis: metrics for tweeting activities. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 16(2), 91–108. doi: 10.1080/13645579.2012.756095 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Castells, M. (2000). Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society. The British Journal of Sociology, 1(51), 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conradie, P. W. (2014). Supporting Self-Directed Learning by Connectivism and Personal Learning Environments. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 4(3), 254–259. doi: 10.7763/IJIET.2014.V4.408 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Donnelly, R. (2011). The coalescence between synergies and conflicts of interest in a top consultancy firm: An analysis of the implications for consultants’ attitudes and behaviours. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(1), 60–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Downes, S. (2014). Connectivism as Learning Theory. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from
  10. Evans, P. (2014). Exploring the relationship between discourse and a practice perspective on HRD in a virtual environment. Human Resource Development International, 17(2), 183–202. doi: 10.1080/13678868.2014.886889 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-Network Theory in Education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Fenwick, T., & Landri, P. (2012). Materialities, textures and pedagogies: socio-material assemblages in education. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, (December), 37–41.Google Scholar
  13. Fiedler, S. (2014). “Open-sourcing”personal learning. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2–3.Google Scholar
  14. Fournier, H., & Kop, R. (2010). Researching the design and development of a Personal Learning Environment. In PLE Conference, 6-8 June. Barcelona.Google Scholar
  15. Gnosis Media Group. (n.d.). Tweetchat Wiki/By Subject. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from
  16. Hodgson, V., McConnell, D., & Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2012). The Theory, Pedagogy and Practice of Networked Learning. In L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, & D. McConnell (Eds.), Exploring the Theory, Pedagogy and Practice of Network Learning (pp. 291–305). New York, NY: Springer New York. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-0496-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kop, R. (2010). The design and development of a personal learning environment: researching the learning experience. In European Distance and E-learning Network annual Conference 2010. Valencia, Spain.Google Scholar
  18. Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past ? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3).Google Scholar
  19. Makitalo, A. (2012). Professional learning and the materiality of social practice. Journal of Education and Work, (October), 37–41.Google Scholar
  20. Malcolm, I., & Plowman, L. (2014). Knowledge, technology and the professional learning of localisers. Professions and Professionalism, 4(1), 1–15. doi: 10.7577/pp.617
  21. Marks, A., & Huzzard, T. (2010). Employability and the ICT worker: a study of employees in Scottish small businesses. New Technology, Work and Employment, 25(2), 167–181. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-005X.2010.00246.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mazzolini, M., & Maddison, S. (2007). When to jump in: The role of the instructor in online discussion forums. Computers & Education, 49(2), 193–213. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2005.06.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCulloch, J., McIntosh, E., & Barrett, T. (2011). Tweeting for Teachers: how can social media support teacher professional development? Google Scholar
  24. McInerney, P.-B. (2009). Technology Movements and the Politics of Free/Open Source Software. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(2), 206–233.Google Scholar
  25. Mutch, A. (2013). Information and Organization Sociomateriality — Taking the wrong turning ? Information and Organization, 23, 28–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Procter, R., Vis, F., & Voss, A. (2013). Reading the riots on Twitter: methodological innovation for the analysis of big data. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 16(3), 197–214. doi: 10.1080/13645579.2013.774172 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Purohit, H., Hampton, A., Shalin, V. L., Sheth, A. P., Flach, J., & Bhatt, S. (2013). What kind of #conversation is Twitter? Mining #psycholinguistic cues for emergency coordination. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(6), 2438–2447. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.05.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Robinson, M., Anning, A., & Frost, N. (2005). When is a teacher not a teacher?’ Knowledge creation and the professional identity of teachers in multi-agency settings. Studies in Continuing Education, 27(2), 175–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rovai, A. P. (2007). Facilitating online discussions effectively. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 77–88. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.10.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scholz, T. (2013). Introduction. In Digital Labour: the internet as playground and factory (pp. 1–9). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Sie, R., Pataraia, N., Boursinou, E., Rajagopal, K., Falconer, I., Bitter-Rijpkema, M., … Sloep, Peter, B. (2013). Goals, Motivation for , and Outcomes of Personal Learning through Networks : Results of a Tweetstorm. Educational Technology & Society, 16(3), 59–75.Google Scholar
  32. Siemans, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1).Google Scholar
  33. Sloep, P. B. (2014). Networked Professional Learning. In A. Littlejohn & A. Margaryan (Eds.), Technology Enhanced Professional Learning: Processes, Practices and Tools (pp. 97–108). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Small, T. a. (2011). What the Hashtag? Information, Communication & Society, 14(6), 872–895. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2011.554572 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wagner, N., Hassanein, K., & Head, M. (2008). Who is responsible for E-Learning Success in Higher Education? A Stakeholders’ Analysis. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 26–36.Google Scholar
  36. Wang, C. X., Anstadt, S., & Goldman, J. (2014). Facilitating Group Discussions in Second Life. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 139–152.Google Scholar
  37. Wilson, S., Liber, O., Johnson, M., Beauvoir, P., Sharples, P., & Milligan, C. (2009). Personal Learning Environments: Challenging the dominant design of educational systems. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 3(2. June 2007), 27–38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations