Artifacts and social learning

Since my last post on Connectivism, a couple of people have asked me about how to reconcile a connectivist approach with the demands of a client-centered project.

By which they of course mean: "These theories are all well and good—but when your client has a tight turnaround time and a limited budget...what can you do?"

It's a well-worn question—but a valid one. My answer in this case is to point them towards a project I designed a few years ago for a major provider of human services personnel for residential homes and care centres in the eastern United States (eVero). The client requirement was to train care-workers quickly and effectively—this is a high-turnover population, for whom training is expensive in both hard and soft dollars. A secondary requirement was to identify candidates with managerial / supervisory potential.

A great way of meeting both these goals is to ask learners to supply a story from their own experience. After providing an interactive case-study, the system effectively says: "Now it's your turn: provide a story that your fellow learners can benefit from hearing." On our platform the learner can upload either a video or a text-based story. Small teams can of course collaborate: and in this way, as connectivist guru George Siemens puts it "the artifact serves as a social learning object."

To see how it works in practice, take a look at this demo walk-through, especially after 05:00, where I describe what we call the Story Center.

In this way a rich and ever-growing archive of stories can be curated and made available to learners going forward. There's also a potential gamification component—stories can compete for prizes ("Story of the month" or whatever). We didn't use this in this instance, but I think this approach offers a fantastic opportunity to build in meaningful incentives of this type.

While we're at it, there are a number of other buzz-words that this solution satisfies:

  • Community of practice
  • Peer-to-peer (social) learning
  • Learner-centered solution...

Take a look at our demo page for more examples of our work involving some or all of these elements. And please get in touch to discuss online and blended solutions. At Learn Interactive we love this stuff—and finding ways to deliver deeply engaging learning experiences within realistic time-frames and budgets.


Bruno Kavanagh