In September 2011, I presented at ReLive 2011 together with Julia Gillen, one of my co-authors. We won third prize for Best Conference Paper.
FERGUSON, R., GILLEN, J., PEACHEY, A. & TWINING, P. The strength of cohesive ties: discursive construction of an online community. ReLIVE11: Creative Solutions for New Futures, 2011 (21-22 September) Milton Keynes, UK.
Learning takes place in a social context and this context can offer many resources, including structure, continuity and motivation. Online, two primary learning types of context have been identified, networks and communities. While networks may offer a wealth of people and resources, communities appear to offer richer learning possibilities. It is therefore important to investigate how online learning communities can be formed from online networks, and whether such a shift benefits learners. The study reported here focuses on two groups of teenagers, one a formal learning group from the USA and the other an informal learning group from the UK. The groups were originally only weakly tied in a network, but aimed to create a single learning community through activity in an online forum, wiki and virtual world. Thematic analysis of their forum posts shows the importance of cohesive ties – grammatical devices used to construct coherent narratives – to the development of key elements of community: spirit, authority, trade and art.