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Learning Communities bring people together for shared learning, discovery, and the generation of knowledge. Within a learning community (LC), all participants take responsibility for achieving the learning goals. Importantly, learning communities are the process by which individuals come together to achieve learning goals. These learning goals can be specific to individual courses and activities, or can be those that guide an entire teaching and learning enterprise.
The following four core ideas are central to the learning community process:
- Shared discovery and learning. Collaborative learning activities where participants share responsibility for the learning that takes place help the development of a learning community. Rather than relying on traditional "expert centered" lecture formats, practitioners should include collaborative learning techniques so learners can see their contribution to the learning goals.
- Functional connections among learners. Learning communities develop when the interactions among learners are meaningful, functional and necessary for the accomplishment of the "work" within the courses or learning activities (rather than serving as "window dressing" or simply as a "feel good" activities). Moreover, meaningful connections must extend throughout the entire learning community-for example, among students, post-docs, faculty, and staff-rather than simply among cohort- or role-related peers.
- Connections to other related learning and life experiences. Learning communities flourish when implicit and explicit connections are made to experiences and activities beyond the course or program in which one participates. These connections help situate one's learning in a larger context by solidifying one's place in the broader campus community of learners and life experiences. These connections decrease one's sense of curricular and personal isolation.
- Inclusive learning environment. Learning communities succeed when the diverse backgrounds and experiences of learners are welcomed in such a way that they help inform the group's collective learning. Whenever possible, activities should be sought that help participants reach out and connect with others from backgrounds different from their own.
The attached document has been developed as a touchstone for program developers/ instructors/facilitators as they develop the learning goals and evaluation plans for their participants in their programs. It is also meant to guide their own practice.
|Download the Learning Community Developmental Framework as a PDF||152.42 KB|