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Learning Network Services for Professional Development

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Rob Koper Editor

Learning Network Services for Professional Development

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Editor Rob Koper Open Universiteit Heerlen Valkenburgerweg 177 6419 AT Heerlen Netherlands [email protected]

ISBN 978-3-642-00977-8 e-ISBN 978-3-642-00978-5 DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-00978-5 Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York Library of Congress Control Number: 2009926848 ACM Computing Classification (1998): K.3, J.4, H.1, H.3 c Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009  This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilm or in any other way, and storage in data banks. Duplication of this publication or parts thereof is permitted only under the provisions of the German Copyright Law of September 9, 1965, in its current version, and permission for use must always be obtained from Springer. Violations are liable to prosecution under the German Copyright Law. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. Cover design: K¨unkelLopka, GmbH Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer Science+Business Media (www.springer.com)

Contents

Introduction 1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob Koper

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Section I Social Interaction in Learning Networks Section Editor: Peter Sloep 2 From Lurker to Active Participant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peter Sloep and Liesbeth Kester

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3 Guidelines to Foster Interaction in Online Communities . . . . . . Adriana Berlanga, Ellen Rusman, Marlies Bitter-Rijpkema, and Peter Sloep

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4 Knowledge Dating and Knowledge Sharing in Ad-Hoc Transient Communities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Liesbeth Kester and Peter Sloep

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5 How to Trigger Emergence and Self-Organisation in Learning Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis Brouns, Sibren Fetter, and Peter van Rosmalen

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Section II Navigation Services for Learning Networks Section Editor: Hans Hummel 6 Individualised Navigation Services in Learning Networks . . . . . Hans Hummel, Bert van den Berg, Adriana Berlanga, Hendrik Drachsler, José Janssen, Rob Nadolski, and Rob Koper 7 Evaluating the Effectiveness of Personalised Recommender Systems in Learning Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hendrik Drachsler, Hans Hummel, Bert van den Berg, Jannes Eshuis, Wim Waterink, Rob Nadolski, Adriana Berlanga, Nanda Boers, and Rob Koper

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Contents

8 How to Set Up Simulations for Designing Light-Weight Personalised Recommender Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob Nadolski, Bert van den Berg, Adriana Berlanga, Hans Hummel, Hendrik Drachsler, Rob Koper, and Peter Sloep 9 How to Find and Follow Suitable Learning Paths . . . . . . . . . . José Janssen, Adriana Berlanga, and Rob Koper

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Section III Assessment and Placement Services in Learning Networks Section Editor: Jan van Bruggen 10

A Process-Oriented Approach to Support Multi-Role Multi-Stage E-Assessment: A Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yongwu Miao and Henry Hermans

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Placement Services for Learning Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan van Bruggen, Marco Kalz, and Desirée Joosten-Ten Brinke

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Tools and Techniques for Placement Experiments . . . . . . . . . . Wim van der Vegt, Marco Kalz, Bas Giesbers, Fridolin Wild, and Jan van Bruggen

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A Validation Scenario for a Placement Service in Learning Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marco Kalz, Jan van Bruggen, Bas Giesbers, Ellen Rusman, Jannes Eshuis, and Wim Waterink

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Section IV Contextualized Learning Network Services Section Editor: Marcus Specht 14

Towards Contextualized Learning Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marcus Specht

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Mobile Social Software to Support Authenticity . . . . . . . . . . . Tim de Jong and Marcus Specht

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Supporting Authentic Learning Contexts Beyond Classroom Walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan Herrington, Marcus Specht, Gwyn Brickell, and Barry Harper

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Awareness and Reflection in Mobile Learning Support . . . . . . . Christian Glahn, Dirk Börner, Jeroen Storm, and Marcus Specht

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Section V Learning Networks Integrated Section Editor: Hubert Vogten 18

A Conceptual Model of Learning Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob Koper

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Contents

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The TENCompetence Infrastructure: A Learning Network Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hubert Vogten, Harrie Martens, and Ruud Lemmers

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Section VI Implementation Examples Section Editor: Wolfgang Greller 20

The Personal Competence Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hubert Vogten and Harrie Martens

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Personal Development Planner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hubert Vogten and Harrie Martens

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Learning Design Authoring Tools in the TENCompetence Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phillip Beauvoir, David Griffiths, and Paul Sharples

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IMS QTI Authoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yongwu Miao

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Conclusion of the Book 24

Conclusion of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob Koper, Peter Sloep, Hans Hummel, Hubert Vogten, Jan van Bruggen, Marcus Specht, and Wolfgang Greller

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Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Contributors

Phillip Beauvoir Institute for Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, Deane Road, Bolton BL3 5AB, UK, [email protected] Adriana Berlanga Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Marlies Bitter-Rijpkema Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Nanda Boers Psychology Department, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Dirk B¨orner Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Gwyn Brickell Faculty of Education, ICT Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia, [email protected] Desir´ee Joosten-Ten Brinke Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Francis Brouns Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Tim de Jong Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Hendrik Drachsler Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] ix

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Contributors

Jannes Eshuis Psychology Department, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Sibren Fetter Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Bas Giesbers Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Maastricht, Tongersestraat 53, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands, [email protected] Christian Glahn Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Wolfgang Greller Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] David Griffiths Institute for Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, Deane Road, Bolton BL3 5AB, UK, [email protected] Barry Harper Faculty of Education, ICT Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia, [email protected] Henry Hermans Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Jan Herrington Faculty of Education, ICT Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia, [email protected] Hans Hummel Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Jos´e Janssen Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Marco Kalz Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Liesbeth Kester Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected]

Contributors

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Rob Koper Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Ruud Lemmers Logica Nederland B.V., Robert Schumandomein 4, 6229 ES Maastricht, The Netherlands, [email protected] Harrie Martens Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Yongwu Miao Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Rob Nadolski Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Ellen Rusman Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Paul Sharples Institute for Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, Deane Road, Bolton BL3 5AB, UK, [email protected] Peter Sloep Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Marcus Specht Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Jeroen Storm Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Jan van Bruggen Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Bert van den Berg Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Wim van der Vegt Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected]

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Contributors

Peter van Rosmalen Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Hubert Vogten Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Wim Waterink Psychology Department, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands, [email protected] Fridolin Wild Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna, Austria, [email protected]

Introduction

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Chapter 1

Introduction Rob Koper

1.1 Rationale of the Book In 2003 we started a new research programme at the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC) that was aiming to help people to further develop their professional competences by using the innovative powers of new media, mobile devices, and modern Internet services. The idea behind the programme was to contribute to one of the bigger challenges in our society: how to deal with the growing complexity, the growing quantity and the permanent changes in knowledge and technologies. For companies this question relates to the core of their business: how to become innovative and stay competitive. For the employees, the ‘professionals’, this question relates directly to their jobs: how to become and stay employable. In this book we will concentrate on the last group, the professionals and their question how to stay employable, how to keep up-to-date and how to develop professional competence during their careers. The professionals represent the human capital, the knowledge, the innovative power in our economy. The challenge of permanently changing knowledge and technologies puts an enormous pressure on individuals to keep-up with all these changes in order to be able to function effectively in their work. Most of the current initiatives, especially under the umbrella of ‘lifelong learning programmes’, try to cope with this phenomenon by intensifying the offering of courses and training events that are delivered at a distance, by e-learning or in the classroom. Also schools and universities are opening up their classes to professionals. This is combined with measures to stimulate or even force professionals to follow all these courses and training events, for instance by introducing a system in which you have to earn a certain amount of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points each year, a system that is for instance R. Koper (B) Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]

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well-known in the medical sector. This is a good first step to solve the problem of continuing professional development, but most of the training offerings are taking the professional outside of the context of their daily work and life for some time, to sit in class rooms and conference venues to be trained. This traditional educational method is not always the most suitable for all types of learning and especially not suitable for every professional, because professionals tend to be very busy people, have their families, their travels, their lives full of other priorities. For many of them, the available time to learn outside of the context of their work and daily life is very limited, or even absent. Also, the transferability of the knowledge gained in these courses to the real practice of the professional is questionable, as everybody knows who has been in these events: most of the time you are working very enthusiastically on a topic for some time during the event, but back in the office it is ‘business as usual’ and the new approaches are soon forgotten because they do not fit the specific circumstances you work in, or are not applicable in your case. Another issue is that professionals are adults with many different experiences and backgrounds, they differ highly in learning needs, preferences and prior knowledge. So, a method of professional development will only be efficient when it is as adaptive, and personalised as possible. Another factor to mention is that the volume of new knowledge produced worldwide in a profession is so enormous nowadays that the traditional role of the ‘teacher as a knowledge source’, doesn’t work in these highly specialised areas anymore. Before a teacher or trainer is fully educated, the knowledge has already changed. This means that professionals should be given direct access to the source of new knowledge and innovative solutions, and the best way to do this is to involve them directly in the innovation and knowledge production itself as part of their job. Related to this is also the acknowledgment that careers of individuals can vary quite a lot, because jobs and market demands are changing. People tend to have various different jobs, even in different sectors during their professional career. Systems like the CPD points are only valuable within the same professional area and not for the planning and management of individual careers with the possibility of multiple jobs in multiple sectors. A last argument for an additional approach to professional learning is that the demand for high quality, specialised learning and its enormous diversification in all sorts of professional areas is growing so fast, that we simply are not able to provide and pay enough teaching and training staff (and classroom time for the professional) to keep-up with the actual growth in demand. On the other side, we are also rather sceptical about the power of self-directed learning as a panacea for all learning needs, especially in domains where the changes are enormous and sources are difficult to find. Just reading news from books, blogs and other news sources in your area is not sufficient to acquire new skills, complex knowledge or to leverage yourself to a higher level of functioning. The availability of help, guidance, planning and direction can be an essential requirement to attain more ambitious learning goals and to make the whole process of learning more efficient. This also includes the possibility to separate yourself sometimes from your

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work and go to specific places, like a conference venue, a training facility or even a classroom when this leads to more efficient learning. So, we have taken it as our challenge to come up with some alternative ways of professional learning, which is taking care of the specific characteristics of the (adult) professional, and mixes the best of both worlds: the more informal selfdirected professional development with the more formal type of teacher-directed training. We see it furthermore as our challenge to create a seamless integration of this new type of professional learning into work and daily life and make the learning experience more intensive and more efficient for the professional. Fortunately, the enormous possibilities of new media, mobile devices and especially the Internet, i.e. Web 2.0 social software services, are very helpful in bringing people in contact with each other and in contact with the direct sources of knowledge. So our idea is to provide network services to connect people, knowledge, training possibilities and ideas in what we call a Learning Network and provide various Learning Network Services that facilitate the learner to access the Network from everywhere, to navigate through the Network, to position themselves in the Network in terms of competences and knowledge, to find people who can help them with specific questions and to get the support of peers and other professionals. In a Learning Network, professionals are facilitated to: • exchange experience and knowledge, • collaborate in joint innovations and research, • offer and get support for further informal, non-formal and formal professional development in the field, • monitor and identify changes in the field and translate these to changed competence requirements for professionals in the field, • organise workshops, discussions and conferences, • to offer support for the assessment of prior learning, including qualifications, certificates and/or diplomas, • support each other when encountering learning problems, • use tools and services to register and monitor progress, to create personal development plans, to manage competence profiles and to author learning resources. These communities are facilitated by Learning Network Services. Specifically the question which Learning Network Services are needed and how they are designed and implemented was the focus of most of our research. We studied and experimented with the Leaning Networks concept for five years in various different projects, like Ph.D. Projects, European projects, internal research and development projects and pilot testing projects. This book summarises our experience and knowledge gained in the field of what we call ‘Learning Network Services for Professional Development’. In this section you are introduced to the aim of the book, along with a basic understanding of the core concepts of Learning Networks to provide you with a sufficient overview to read this book. Guidelines for reading are also provided.

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1.2 Aim of the Book and Target Readers The aim of the book is to present contemporary, research-based insights into the field of Learning Networks and especially into the web-services that can be provided to facilitate the processes within these networks. The main emphasis of the book is to explain what services a Learning Network requires and what the reader should do to design and run an effective Learning Network Service, including guidelines how to evaluate the effectiveness of a Learning Network Service. The book is meant to be a worthwhile source of information for practitioners and professional development providers who want to stimulate learning of professionals through social interaction within a company, university, school, region, etc. Because the book is based on research, it is also a good introduction for other researchers in the field who want to be updated in this topic and for students in the field of Learning Sciences or Technology Enhanced Learning. Furthermore, for managers of educational institutions and training companies it is a source of information to provide Learning Network Services to their students and customers, and last but not least the book provides a source of technical information for ICT developers who have to programme specific Learning Network Services. Most chapters do not require any specific pre-knowledge to read the book, although the book expects a basic understanding of the issues in professional development and technologies like e-mail, Web services, Web 2.0 and Mobile technologies. Some chapters are intended for designers and programmers who want to setup new Learning Network Services, these chapters require more extensive programming and design experience. They will be identified in the section ‘How to Read This Book’.

1.3 Learning Networks A Learning Network is defined in this book as a technology supported community of people who are helping each other to better understand and handle certain events and concepts in work or life. As a result, participating in Learning Networks stimulates professional development, a better understanding of concepts and events, career development and employability. Participating in Learning Networks can be a worthwhile instrument for learning, alongside the more regular, formal forms of education that we all know (they can even be integrated into it). Examples of Learning Networks are: • The employees of a company who want to learn how to provide customer services for new products. • Communities of teachers who exchange their experience in handling certain pedagogical situations in the classroom. • Parents of disabled children who exchange their experience and help each other to learn how to handle certain situations in the best way.

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• Communities of researchers who exchange information to find solutions about a pollution problem. They update each other with new knowledge and solve problems jointly. • Lawyers who exchange knowledge and experience when a new law is introduced within their field. • Students who help each other to write a dissertation. • A football, golf, tennis or other sports club (mixes competition = assessment with informal and formal training opportunities and also knowledge exchange). Most of the current Learning Networks are still very weakly supported with information and communication facilities. The intention is to enrich these existing Learning Networks with Learning Network Services that makes them more efficient and makes them better accessible from everywhere in order to integrate them into daily life and work. Learning Network Services are Web-services that are designed to facilitate the members of the network to exchange knowledge and experience in an effective way, to stimulate active and secure participation within the network, to develop and assess the competences of the members, to find relevant peers and experts to support you with certain problems, and to facilitate ubiquitous and mobile access to the Learning Network. Figure 1.1 provides a concept diagram that contains most of the key components of a Learning Network in a professional context. A more elaborated and generic model can be found in Chap. 18. In this diagram a person (me) is positioned with all the relationships within a work context: colleagues at work and other people in the same profession. Not drawn, but existing are all other relationships at home, sports, online, etc. A Learning Network is build around the networks of individual persons, just like this is done in social software environments like elgg, facebook, hyves, linkedIn, etc. So, Learning Networks are organic, they are self-organised by nature.

Fig. 1.1 Key components of a Learning Network of a professional

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Within a Learning Network a person can define learning goals that could be triggered by the person self or externally (e.g., by my boss). Examples of such learning goals are, that you want to be updated on the latest developments in a specific area, want to upgrade your competences to work towards a better or different job or function, want to improve the proficiency level of a specific competence. A learning goal is formulated within the context of formal or informal defined competence profiles that specify the minimal required levels to function adequately, e.g., a job or function profile, but also more informally some statements or opinions about what is needed to be a good professional. The levels of the competences the person actually has are (self-)assessed and compared with the required levels as specified in the competence profiles. The result is a kind of gap analysis per competence that is stored in my e-portfolio and that provides the basis for the creation of a personal development plan (PDP). A PDP consists of a series of learning events that represent education and training activities like courses and training events, but it can also be an expressed intention to look after some behavioural or knowledge aspects (Improve my presentation skills). This intention is only translated to a learning event when the occasion occurs that the person has to do a presentation in the work context. The results are then reported later, e.g. in a blog. The learning events can be sequenced and planned towards an optimal learning path that the person intends to follow in the PDP. Each learning event has some usergenerated metadata connected to it as soon as the event has been performed by other professionals earlier. Examples of this kind of metadata are for instance: what is the rated quality of the event, with what rate of success did persons follow the event, what prior knowledge did the successful participants of the event had, etc. This information provides a valuable base for recommender systems that recommend learning events based on the experience of others. When someone encounters a learning event, e.g., is busy solving some problem in the work context, one can have a need for the support of another person. So, facilities will be available to find peers or trainers/teachers/coaches who can help you at a specific moment. Given this initial conceptional model of a Learning Network, we can now identify the various Learning Network Services that are described in this book. In Section I the focus is on services that stimulate social interaction, e.g., finding suitable peers to help you solving problems, and furthermore incentive mechanisms to stimulate persons to help others. In Section II the focus is on navigation services that recommend adequate learning events, based on the user-generated metadata. In Section III the focus is on the gap analysis, i.e., the assessment of competence levels, given certain competence profiles and the selection of the related set of learning events that can be picked and mixed from in the PDP. In Section IV the focus is on the mobile access of the Learning Network Services and the personalisation and contextualisation of the learning events itself. In Section V all these aspects are integrated into a common model for Learning Networks, providing the basis for technical Learning Network Services and tools. In Section VI the focus is on concrete implementation examples.

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1.4 How to Read the Book This book deals with various Learning Network Services that each are described in a separate section of the book. Table 1.1 represents the structure of the book. It presents the topic of the sections, the section editors and the primary reader groups for the section (in priority order). Table 1.1 Structure of the book Learning networks service

Section

Section editor

Reader groups

Services that support social interaction in Learning Networks

I

Peter Sloep

1. Providers 2. Researchers

Services that support the navigation within Learning Networks

II

Hans Hummel

1. Providers 2. Researchers

Services that support the assessment and placement of persons within a competence framework

III

Jan van Bruggen

1. Providers 2. Researchers 3. ICT developers

Services that provide adaptation in and mobile access to a Learning Network

IV

Marcus Specht

1. Providers 2. Researchers 3. ICT developers

Infrastructure services that are needed to create an integrated Learning Network

V

Hubert Vogten

1. ICT Developers 2. Researchers 3. Providers (first chapter only)

Implementation examples

VI

Wolfgang Greller

1. ICT Developers 2. Researchers

Each section has a Section ‘Introduction’ that provides an introduction into the section. It explains the type of Learning Network Service that is addressed in the section and explains how it helps users within Learning Networks to do their tasks more effective or efficient. Furthermore it summarises each chapter in the section and provides information about the way different reader groups (providers, researchers and ICT developers) can best read the chapters in the section. The last chapter of this book is a ‘Conclusion’ were we reflect back on the original goals of the research as it is described in this introduction. What knowledge did we gain exactly? Which knowledge can be applied in practice and which should be research in more detail? Which areas are still underdeveloped and should have a practical or research focus in the coming years? At the beginning of each section and chapter we have generated a tag cloud that provides a worthwhile first impression of the concepts that are addressed in the chapter or section. The tag cloud of the whole book can be found in Fig. 1.2.

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Fig 1.2 Tag cloud of the whole book

Acknowledgements The editors and authors wish to thank the management and staff of the Schloss Dagstuhl International Conference and Research Center for Computer Science for providing a pleasant, stimulating and well organised environment in which several of the chapters of the book have been written and the final editing has been accomplished. Furthermore, we would like to express our gratitude to the reviewers of the chapters who have provided valuable feedback to the authors. These reviewers were: Katrina Maxwell (INSEAD), Mike Sharples (University of Nottingham), Reinhard Oppermann (Fraunhofer FIT), Dai Griffiths and Scott Wilson (University of Bolton, UK), Paul de Bra (Tu Eindhoven), John Dron (Athabasca University), Eelco Herder and Philip Kärger (L3S, Universität Hannover, Germany), Nick Hine (University of Dundee), Ralf Klamma (RWTH Aachen), Peter Brusilovsky (University of Pittsburgh), Teemu Leinonen (University of Art and Design Helsinki), Nabil Sahli (Telematics Institute, The Netherlands), Judith Schooneboom (University of Amsterdam), Rowin Young (University of Strathclyde), Hans Poort (Logica), Juliette Culver (The Open University, UK), Piet Kommers (University of Twente), Fridolin Wild (University of Wien), Iwan Wopereis, Aad Slootmaker and Marlies Bitter (Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands), Karel Kreijns (Ruud de Moor Centre, Open University of the Netherlands). Furthermore we want to thank the Learning Technologies Research Group at Liverpool Hope University for the contribution to Section VI. The work in the chapters of this book has been partly sponsored by various projects: • The TENCompetence Integrated project that is co-funded by the European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme, priority IST/Technology Enhanced Learning. Contract 027087 (www.tencompetence.org). • The COOPER Project that is co-funded by the European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme, priority IST/ Technology Enhanced Learning. Contract no.: 027073 (www.cooperproject.org). • The idSpace project ‘Tooling of and training for collaborative, distributed product innovation’ that is co-funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, priority IST/Technology Enhanced Learning, Contract no.: 216199 (www.idspace-project.org). • The LTfLL project ‘Language Technologies for LifeLong Learning’ that is co-funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, priority IST/Technology Enhanced Learning, Contract no.: 212578 (www.ltfll-project.org). • The MACE project ‘Metadata for Architectural Contents project’ that is co-funded by the European Commission in the eContentPlus program, Contract no.: ECP 2005 EDU 038098 MACE. • The GRAPPLE project ‘Generic Responsive Adaptive Personalized Learning Environment’ that is co-funded by European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, priority IST/Technology Enhanced Learning, Contract no.: 2007-215434 (http://www.grapple-project.org/). • The RAFT project was funded by the Commission of the European Community under the IST/Technology Enhanced Learning 5th Framework. Contract no.: IST-2001-34273.

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• Sydney Olympic Park Authority funded the development of the Sydney Olympic Park project in collaboration with NSW Department of Education and Training Curriculum Directorate and Paramatta Diocese Curriculum Unit. • The Environmental Science Experiences for Schools (Killalea) project was supported by the Department of Education, Science and Training through their Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics program, ASISTM. The project partners consisted of twelve local schools, the NSW Department of Education, the University of Wollongong, CSIRO Entomology, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation National Parks Division and NSW Department of Lands- Killalea State Park Board of Trustees. Last but not least, we want to thank Sabine Roks for her support in the final editing process.

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Section I

Social Interaction in Learning Networks Section Editor: Peter Sloep

Much of current research into learning is focused on learners who are members of a cohort, have submitted themselves to a curricular translation of their learning needs, and let their learning activities be organised by an educational institution. This kind of formal learning is particularly relevant for the initial education of young people and, in much smaller numbers, for the traditional target groups of the open and distance education institutions, which cater for people who seek a formal degree at an advanced age. However, much if not most learning is carried out by individuals, in non-curricular settings, professionally, in the context of the corporation or institution they happen to work with, or privately, as a result of a wish to re-educate themselves or out of pure interests. The advent of the knowledge society in many parts of the world, with its emphasis on continuous development and self-responsibility, will only lead to a further shift of this balance, away from formal learning towards what is usually called non-formal learning (Communities 2000; Edwards and Usher 2001; Griffin 1983; Longworth and Davies 1996; Sloep and Jochems 2007). Non-formal learning is as much intentional as is formal learning, however, it does P. Sloep (B) Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open Universiteit Nederland, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands

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not rely on the kind of one-stop solutions that present-day schools and universities provide, nor does it necessarily rely on fixed curricula, classroom instruction, and cohort-based pacing. Non-formal learning takes the desires of ‘students’ as its starting point rather than institutional offerings (Colley et al. 2003; Schugurensky 2000). It thus is pull-based rather than push-based, if you like (Sloep et al. 2008). Thus far, we have characterised non-formal learning by exclusion, by describing what it is not and does not assume. This prompts the question of how non-formal learning may become a reality. If institutions such as schools and universities with their lecture rooms and curricula are not the answer, what is? It is our claim that Learning Networks are the devices that should come in their place. This section discusses the social aspects of Learning Networks will be discussed. First, the question will be addressed why non-formal learners would bother to act socially (Chap. 2). What is in it for them? Given their busy lives, perhaps having to fit learning into a schedule filled with work, family, and leisure obligations, this is a valid question. And if indeed it is useful for them to engage socially in a Learning Network, how then can they be convinced of this? Second, the question of how sociability in Learning Networks best could emerge and be maintained will be taken up (Chaps. 3, 4 and 5). Chapter 3 looks at guidelines for the maintenance of the patchwork of communities that will arise within the boundaries of a specific Learning Network, Chap. 4 discusses in detail guidelines that should guarantee the emergence of such communities. For this a new notion is introduced, that of ad-hoc transient communities. Such communities provide the mechanism for community emergence, the argument is. Chapter 5 describes a case in which they can be seen in action. At this juncture, a word of caution is in order. The above characterisation of nonformal learning may seem to indicate that thinking in terms of Learning Networks has no bearing on formal learning at all, perhaps even seeks to ban it entirely from the landscape of education. That would be a grave mistake for at least two reasons. First, in all likelihood the initial education of children and adolescents will be best served by a formal approach to it, even if reforms may be in order. Indeed, in formal education, particularly in vocational formal learning, attempts are being made to adapt the traditional push model and make it adopt features of the kind of pull model we advocate here (Anonymous 2007). Second, there is no reason why, in the context of Learning Network, bouts of formal learning could not be incorporated if those happen to be the most efficient and effective way for particular learners to cater for their competence needs. The reason why formal learning is downplayed in this section is because much of our current expertise in schools and universities is with the push model. So promoting a pull model requires a rethinking of much conventional wisdom. This pertains to many of our traditional educational assumptions, but also to the organisational aspects of the educational universe that is needed, and to the business models that underpin the economic viability of such a universe. Thinking in terms of Learning Networks allows us to break away from conventional wisdom, precisely because several of the traditional assumptions that one surreptitiously makes, are abandoned or at least questioned. Indeed, it the unconventional attitude which thinking in terms of Learning Networks requires that may teach us valuable lessons for formal learning as well.

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References Anonymous: Flexibiliteit als voorwaarde; onderwijslogistiek in vraaggestuurd MBO (Stichting Kennisnet ICT op school, Zoetermeer 2007) p. 24 Colley, H. et al.: Informality and Formality in Learning: A Report for the Learning and Skills Research Centre (Learning and Skills Research Centre, London 2003) Communities, C.o.t.E.: Commission Staff Working Paper. A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning (European Commission, Brussels, Belgium 2000) Edwards, R., Usher, R.: Lifelong learning: A postmodern condition of education? Adult Educ. Q. 51(4), 273–287. (2001) Griffin, C.: Curriculum Theory in Adult and Lifelong Education (Groom helm, Kent 1983) Longworth, N., Davies, W.K.: Lifelong Learning, New Vision, New Implications, New Roles for People, Organisations, Nations and Communities in the 21st Century (Kogan, London 1996) Schugurensky, D.: The forms of informal learning: Towards a conceptualization of the field. NALL Working Paper No. 19 19 (2000) Sloep, P. et al.: A European research agenda for lifelong learning. InEADTU Annual Conference 2008, Poitiers France 18–19 September 2008 Lifelong learning in higher education: networked teaching and learning in a knowledge society., Poitiers, France 2008 Sloep, P., Jochems, W.: De e-lerende burger. In: Jaarboek ICT en samenleving 2007; gewoon digitaal, ed. by Steyaert, J., De Haan, J. (Boom, Amsterdam 2007) pp. 171–187

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Chapter 2

From Lurker to Active Participant Peter Sloep and Liesbeth Kester

2.1 Introduction For the purposes of this chapter and section, we conceive of a Learning Network as a particular kind of online social network that is designed to support non-formal learning in a particular domain. The ‘social’ implies that we will focus on interactions between people, the ‘non-formal’ that we will not assume the presence of cohorts, curricula, etc. A Learning Network thus becomes a rather haphazard collection of people who share an interest in a particular topic about which they want to further educate themselves professionally or privately. These people, we assume, do not know of each other’s existence. In actual fact this may be different, they may be accidental or even deliberate acquaintances, for instance if they decide to join P. Sloep (B) Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] R. Koper (ed.), Learning Network Services for Professional Development, C Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009 DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-00978-5_2, 

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as a group. However, for the case of the emergence of sociability, we’ll take the worst-case scenario of a collection of unconnected individuals. If sociability can be made to emerge in an environment that resembles a social desert, it always will, is the argument. This implies that a Learning Network may not be equated with a kind of community. Over time, a Learning Network could develop community-like characteristics. Indeed, we argue that it should in order to maximise its utility. After all, there is much to be gained for the inhabitants of a Learning Network from the mere fact that they all share a particular interest, which is specific to this Network. These benefits may materialise in two different ways, already distinguished in 1973 by Mark Granovetter in a seminal paper (Granovetter 1973). If one thinks of social communities, the mental image is mostly that of a close-knit community in which everybody pretty much knows everybody else. Ties between people in such communities are strong, in the sense that they interact frequently and intensely. Although this is a virtue in that social interactions run smoothly, it is a vice in that knowledge not available inside the community will for ever elude its members. In the words of Granovetter ‘strong ties, breeding local cohesion, lead to overall fragmentation’ (p. 1378). To access others outside the local community, weak ties have to be exploited, or ‘weak ties . . . are . . . indispensable to individuals’ opportunities and to their integration into communities’ (p. 1378). In line with this observation, it is our central thesis that a Learning Network, being devoid of communities in its incipient phase, provides ample opportunities for community emergence and growth, and hence the establishment of strong ties, through the exploitation of the many weak ties it harbours. In the end, therefore, we view a Learning Network as consisting of many, partly overlapping communities. Through the communities, the benefits of a strongknit community are reaped, through the overlap, information may flow through the Network as a whole (see also Burt 2000; Reagans and McEvily 2003). In this chapter we will specifically go into the question of how prospective Learning Network users may be convinced of these benefits, for that is likely to be the necessary condition for their active participation in any Learning Network. Their question would be ‘Why should I participate?’, this chapter inventories answers to that question, which are then translated into a few guidelines for those contemplating to set up a particular, topic-bound Learning Network. Two kinds of answer are distinguished. Proximate answers, which affect the decision to participate here and now; and ultimate answers, which motivate participation, but only in the long run, after the decision to participate has already been taken. Both are important, the former to persuade people to participate, the latter to persuade people to keep participating. Before going into them, we’ll introduce a concrete example to add some realism to the discussion.

2.2 The Moto Guzzi V7 Enthusiasts Eddy LeDuca is 38 years old and recently bought an old Moto Guzzi V7 from 1972. To restore it in its original state and make it operational again, he wants to learn

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how to go about that. From a colleague he got wind of an online vintage motorcycle network. In it he hopes to learn some tips and tricks for renovating his newly-bought vintage Guzzi V7. Jannie Barends is 62 years old and enjoys an early retirement. She bought a brand new Moto Guzzi V7 back in 1972 and now owns twelve motorcycles, all collectors’ items. Since the Guzzi was her first motorcycle she is very attached to it and does everything she can to keep it running. She has a whole library of manuals on how to maintain, rebuild and repair motorcycles, and is used to exchange information with other motorcycle fanatics. Bas Timmer is 23 years and works as a car mechanic at ‘Stop and Go’, a franchise specialised in small car-reparations that are done while you wait. He has the ambition of running his own garage in the near future. By way of preparation, he surfs the Internet and visits online discussions and fora on cars and motorcycles. He wants to keep his knowledge up to date and stay on top of what lives among the car and motorcycle amateurs. In the business plan for his own garage he wants to include services that match the needs of the amateurs. Jessica Zwart is 41 years old and works for the research and development department of Moto Guzzi. She is an experienced person. Ever since the advent of the Internet, she became an active member of all kinds Moto Guzzi discussion fora. Like Bas, she uses them to keep informed about what lives among owners of vintage motorcycles, Moto Guzzis in particular. Her regular posts are intended primarily to gauge customer satisfaction, and test new research and development ideas. Eddy, Jannie, Bas and Jessica all share a passion for vintage motorcycles. In one way or another, Eddy, Jannie, Bas and Jessica are really all lifelong learners who – from their various perspectives – want to expand their knowledge about vintage motorcycles, in particular the Moto Guzzi from 1972. Wouldn’t there be a better a way to serve their interests than is done currently by rather haphazardly surfing the Internet and, every so often, engaging in a discussion forum? Joining the Learning Network on vintage motorcycles seems to be a good idea, but what would be convincing arguments to them?

2.3 The Long-Term Perspective Arguments to convince Eddy, Jannie, Bas and Jessica should refer to the ways in which each one of them personally benefits from sharing knowledgewith the other participants in the vintage motorcycle Network. For Eddy, this would relate to his ability properly to renovate the bike, for Jannie the ties she develops with fellowenthusiasts, for Bas the insights he gains in how to set up his own bike shop in due time, and for Jessica the user feedback she receives. These all refer to motives for participation the beneficial effects of which reveal themselves in the long run. Such motives come in a few kinds. First, note that the reasons why knowledge is exchanged in some Learning Network may range from purely educating oneself, such as done by Eddy and perhaps

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Jennie, to developing oneself professionally, such as done by Bas and Jessica. Thus the use of a Learning Network extends beyond the educational realm into the participants’ professional life, present and future. A Learning Network qua knowledge sharing community thus acquires characteristics of a community of professionals. Particularly to someone such as Bart this is very significant. While learning about vintage motorcycles, in his case particularly the Moto Guzzi V7, he comes in contact with many people, such as Jessica, who will be useful to him in his future professional life as a bike shop owner. This applies generally. The communities of learning that arise in a Learning Network may acquire characteristics of communities of professionals (Brown 2001). As argued, typically learners in a Learning Network combine their need to learn with the necessity to work. Indeed, their learning needs often derive from their occupation. So there is every reason to expect that the communities that arise in the Learning Network will acquire this dual nature of a learning community and a professional community (Longworth and Davies 1996). Second, as has been pointed out by Nardi et al. (2000), it has become less productive only to rely on knowledge sources within the company you happen to work with. Such sources have become less reliable and less accessible with the increased turnover rate of personnel and indeed companies themselves. If your company is a constant state of flux and you yourself are in constant danger of being replaced or even losing your job, it is much more productive and sensible to rely on your own, personal network, a type of network she describes as intensional. (This kind of network, parenthetically, shows remarkable resemblance with the ad-hoc transient communities discussed in Chaps. 4 and 5) This makes you as a person less dependent on the company you work for. In addition, the chances of accessing novel information are increased since you step out of the probably close-knit group you are part of (Burt 2000; Reagans and McEvily 2003). Third and focussing specifically on the act of learning itself, there is ample evidence that collaboration and a social setting significantly improve learning effectiveness and learning efficiency. By collaborating with others, learners make use of their collective intelligence, motivate and enlighten each other and thus improve their learning outcomes (Allen 2005; Cartney and Rouse 2006; Chapman and Ramondt 2005; Keppell and Au 2006). Some will say they have become part of a community of learning (Wilson and Ryder 1998). In educational circles, this is a familiar argument, which goes back to the ideas Vygotski (1978) or even Dewey, back in 1916 (Dewey 1916). Related to this but different from it is the argument that helping others in a learning context, that is acting as peer-tutors, is a powerful learning experience in and of itself (Fantuzzo et al. 1989; Wong et al. 2003) (see for more details Chap. 4). Therefore, we have uncovered two kinds of reasons for participating in a Learning Network: it benefits you as a professional, prospective or actual, and it improves your learning. These benefits materialise in the future as a consequence of your having been active in the Network. Guidelines for Learning Network designers will have to consider this long-term character. They should point out these benefits to the novice users of a Learning Network, perhaps through accounts of successful participation of past and present users. Guidelines thus take the form of information

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about and explanations of benefits. These may convince people to ‘give it a try’; they will not convince them to change from passive onlookers into active participants. Although there is a role for such ‘lurkers’, see Preece et al. (2004), a Network of only lurkers will rapidly lose its attractiveness. So how can lurkers be convinced to contribute actively?

2.4 The Short-Term Perspective To investigate the question of why some Learning Network participant would decide actively to participate in it, consider the following situation. Eddy, having taken apart the fuel system of his Guzzi V7, finds out that he is hesitant about the exact way in which to reassemble the carburettor. The manual he has shows an exploded view of the carburettor, but his seems to be a slightly different model. Perhaps some of the V7 s were fitted with a different model? He decides to seek help. Suppose, a mechanism is in place that allows him to target specific people in the Network who should be knowledgeable about his question. Suppose, Jessica receives his question about how to reassemble his particular make of carburettor. Why Jessica would answer Eddy, is the question. What is in it for her? She might consider to answer Eddy in the hope that next time, when she has a request to Eddy, for instance to gauge his opinion on a new design, he will reciprocate. However, what guarantee does she have he will? This kind of situation has been analysed extensively in game theory. It is akin to the classical prisoners’ dilemma, in which two prisoners facing a long period of incarceration, have to decide either to stay silent about their misdeed or to confess (Aronson and Thibodeau 1992). If they collaborate and both stay silent, their punishment is smallest (say, each 1 year). If one of them talks and the other does not, the prisoner who talks is worst off (5 years); the prisoner who keeps his mouth shut profits by having his jail time reduced to naught. However, if both talk, they are worst off, as both are sent off for 3 years. The best strategy therefore is to join forces and not talk, however, how can the other person be trusted not to go for no jail time at all by talking? The result of the individually most sensible decision (talk) produces the collectively worst outcome (a total time of 6 years rather than 2). Translated to the example, Jessica should therefore decide not to honour Eddy’s request for help for fear of not being helped by Eddy later on with her request for help. And indeed, what guarantee does she have Eddy will reciprocate? The predicament can be overcome by repeatedly ‘playing the game’, a situation which is called the iterated prisoners dilemma. The best strategy to follow, simulations have shown, is the tit-for-tat strategy: always cooperate on your first move (help Eddy) and then copy the last move of your opponent (if Eddy failed to reciprocate, Jessica will not help him next time around, if he did, so will she) (Axelrod 1984). The simulations Axelrod carried out for this situation, however, show that a few conditions need to be met for this to work. First, participants need to be identifiable, i.e. have a persistent identity, even if it is a pseudonym. Second, there may be no, to the participants known ending to the ‘game’. If there is, the players do

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not have a means of punishing defection behaviour (i.e. cheating on your opponent), so the rules of the one-off prisoners dilemma apply to the last move. However, now they are unsure about their last move, by the same argument they also are about the one but last move, and so on, down to the present move. Third, even though the value of future encounters may decrease relative to the present one – for all you know, there may be no next encounter – the decrease should be limited. Otherwise, if there hardly is a future we are back again at the one-off prisoners dilemma. It is important to notice that, if the conditions discussed are met, Axelrod’s simulations show that cooperation will arise and spread spontaneously in many cases. Even if only a small percentage of a group plays tit-for-tat (about 5%), they can ‘invade’ a group of people who refuse to collaborate. The upshot is that in an incipient Learning Network in which the conditions just discussed obtain, collaboration will occur. Only some inhabitants will have to be willing to take the risk of answering a question without guarantee of reciprocation. Obviously, guidelines for a Learning Network designer pertain to implementing Axelrod’s criteria and keeping the investment needed actually to honour a request for help as low as possible. Chapter 5 discusses an experiment in which this has been done. Although the details will differ from Learning Network instantiation to instantiation, it will not be difficult to prevent people from changing their identities or a Network from ending at a specific date. It is more difficult to have the future cast a sufficiently large shadow into the future, as this has to do with frequency and intensity of contact and size of the Network. No clear-cut guideline may be given therefore. Although collaboration should arise spontaneously according to a gametheoretical analysis, thus almost pre-empting the need for mechanisms that spur people to collaborate and answer questions, analyses have been made of such mechanisms for different contexts. These hold promises for collaboration in Learning Networks too. We are referring to Stephen Weber’s investigation of the mechanisms behind the success of Open Source communities (Weber 2004). Like Learning Networks, these communities are in their beginning stages loose-knit and often rely on large numbers of contributors. What motivates them to contribute their source code without any chance of financial recompense, Weber wondered. Of the several mechanisms, he suggests two apply to Learning Network. First, there is the desire to produce a thing of intrinsic beauty. Although this may be hard to grasp for a non-programmer, it is similar to what one experiences when writing a gripping story, delivering an elegant mathematical proof or cooking an exquisite meal. It has to do with professional pride, something that is hard to experience when producing proprietary software. One should realise that software code is hidden from inspection once the code is compiled, as is necessary to turn it into code that can be executed on an actual computer. Therefore, if the software is proprietary, nobody will ever see it as it is screened off from inspection by trade secrecy, effectively robbing a programmer from the praise from others that may feed his pride and satisfaction as a professional. As open source code can be inspected by

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anybody, particularly professional peers, the situation there is completely different. This motive translates to a Learning Network as the pride someone puts into honouring a request for help. Going back to Eddy’s carburettor, Jessica could do a quick and dirty answer by pointing to a page in some manual she owns, trusting that Eddy will find a way of accessing it. Or she might write a more elaborate answer, clarifying to him some of the abstruse elements in the manual, a scanned image of which she includes. Second, now that the code is accessible by everyone, it also provides the programmer an effective means of self-promotion. Anybody, including potential employers and clients, can assess the quality of her work and on the basis thereof decide to hire her. Of course, this motive builds on the previous one. After all, an elegant piece of program code better supports the aim of self-promotion than would a bad instance. This too easily translates to Learning Networks. Jessica has a stake in an answer that is clear and complete. Others who see it will immediately appreciate its quality, something that increases Jessica’s reputation as a professional in the Network. And from this, she will profit when she herself needs help with the assessment of the user appreciation of, say, a new design for a Guzzi saddle. Both examples of incentives that apparently motivate computer programmers to share their code with others will provide incentives to Learning Network participants to honour requests for help. The sense of pride that attaches to having provided an elegant answer and the concomitant benefits to someone’s reputation, will obviously only come about if the answer is publicly available. Again, how this translates into guidelines for a specific Learning Network depends on the Network in question. A publicly available, instantly updated list of question asked would be a means. Chapter 5 discusses an experiment with question answering in a Learning Network. In this case, no list of questions asked was provided. However, several people, thus providing a modicum of exposure, discussed questions in wikis. The set-up could however easily have included a list of questions asked and answers given. A third, rather obvious mechanism to keep in mind, relates to the costs someone incurs who wants to honour a request for help. Such costs consist of two parts. The transactions costs are the effort needed to access the question and process the answer. They need to be added to the material costs of providing the answer itself. Obviously, much is to be gained by keeping the transaction costs low, at the very least their perception. Having to drop a request for help in several, generic fora and then having to check them regularly for an answer, obviously generates high transactions costs. Using RSS feeds to keep a tab on these fora already would lover the costs, etc. Generally, technical solutions will significantly help lower such costs. Perhaps surprisingly, the costs of actually providing an answer can also be lowered by technical means. In de experiment discussed in Chap. 5, participants who have indicated to be willing to answer a content-related question are guided to a wiki, which is seeded with text fragments that pertain to the subject in question. Jointly editing these fragments is a significant reduction of effort compared with thinking up an answer all, individually (Van Rosmalen et al. 2008).

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2.5 Conclusion Learning Network participants will somehow need to be convinced that it is in their interest not to stay lurking and become active participants. Although there are sound ultimate reasons for them to do so – they maximise their profit from the Network both in terms of their professional development and in terms of their learning achievements – they still need to be convinced to honour this specific request from this specific person at this specific moment of time. If the conditions for an iterated prisoners’ dilemma apply, collaboration should actually arise spontaneously. However, motives that are more powerful apply. An analysis of the motives that drive programmers to write open source code, revealed two direct motives, the desire to create a thing of beauty and the possibility to contribute to one’s professional reputation. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this suffices. Perhaps elaborate reward and punishment systems are needed. Whatever the case, it is almost certain that what works and does not work crucially depends on the kind of Learning Network to which these guidelines are applied. They will need to receive a local interpretation and instantiation. In addition, the analysis was deliberately done for first-time users of a novel Learning Network. However, typically, novel users will enter a Network that has been around for a while. Thus, they do not encounter an unstructured whole, but rather a patchwork of communities, which each already address several, slightly different topics within the overall framework that the Network is about. So over time in the vintage motorcycle Network certainly community-like grouping will have emerged that, for instance, as in the case of Moto Guzzi V7. The presence of such a structure will certainly make it easier for first-time users to decide to change their lurking behaviour and become active participants in some specific community. As a Moto Guzzi enthusiast, it is more rewarding to enter into a discussion with fellow enthusiasts Eddy, Jenny, Bas, or Jessica than with someone who is of a different persuasion. How such communities may arise and be maintained is discussed in the two chapters to follow.

References Allen, K.: Online learning: Constructivism and conversation as an approach to learning. Innov. Educ. Teach. Int. 42(3), 247–256 (2005) Aronson, E., Thibodeau, R.: The Jigsaw classroom: A cooperative strategy for an educational psychology course. In: Cultural diversity and the schools ed by Lynch, J. et al. (Palmer, Washington 1992) pp 231–256 Axelrod, R.: The evolution of cooperation (Basic Books, New York 1984) Brown, R.E.: The process of community-building in distance learning classes. J. Async. Learn. Network. 5(2), 18–35 (2001) Burt, R.S.: The network structure of social capital. In: Research in organizational behavior ed by Sutton, R.I., Staw, B.M. (Elsevier, New York 2000) pp 345–423 Cartney, P., Rouse, A.: The emotional impact of learning in small groups: Highlighting the impact on student progression and retention. Teach. High. Educ. 11(1), 79–91 (2006)

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Chapman, C., Ramondt, L.: Strong community, deep learning: Exploring the link. Innov. Educ. Train. Int. 42(3), 217–230 (2005) Dewey, J.: Democracy and education (MacMillan, New York 1916) Fantuzzo, J.W. et al.: Effects of reciprocal peer tutoring on academic achievement and psychological adjustement: A component analysis. J. Educ. Psychol. 81, 173–177 (1989) Granovetter, M.S.: The strenght of weak ties. Am. J. Sociol. 78(6), 1360–1380 (1973) Keppell, M., Au, E.: Peer learning and learning-oriented assessment in technology-enhanced environments. Assess. Eval. High Educ. 34(4), 435–464 (2006) Longworth, N., Davies, W.K.: Lifelong learning, new vision, new implications, new roles for people, organisations, nations and communities in the 21st century (Kogan, London 1996) Nardi, B.A. et al.: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: Work in the information age. First Monday 5(5), (2000) Preece, J. et al.: The top five reasons for lurking: Improving community experience for everyone. Comput. Human Behav. 20, 201–223 (2004) Reagans, R., McEvily, B.: Network structure and knowledge transfer: The effects of cohesion and range. Adm. Sci. Q. 48, 240–267 (2003) Van Rosmalen, P. et al.: A model for online learner support based on selecting appropriate peer tutors. J. Comput. Assist. Learn. 24(6), 483–493 (2008) Vygotsky, L.S.: Mind in society (Harvard, Cambridge, MA 1978) Weber, S.: The success of open source (Harvard, Cambridge, MA. 2004) Wilson, B., Ryder, M.: Distributed learning communities: An alternative to designed instructional systems. Educ. Tech. Res. Dev. (1998) Wong, W.K. et al.: Reciprocal tutoring using cognitive tools. J. Comp. Assist. Learn. 19, 416–428 (2003)

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Chapter 3

Guidelines to Foster Interaction in Online Communities Adriana Berlanga, Ellen Rusman, Marlies Bitter-Rijpkema, and Peter Sloep

3.1 Introduction This chapter focuses on the communities that arise within the confines of a Learning Network. As they are not preconfigured, members and all, but are thought to emerge spontaneously, out of their own volition as it were, the question arises how their continued existence may be safe-guarded. What measures and tools, or Learning Network Services, may foster the well-being of communities once they have emerged? How can one make sure that a community, which its members consider valuable, does not disappear because the costs of maintaining it become prohibitive? As Learning Networks predominantly support non-formal learning in which mainly professional and lifelong learners will participate, the Learning Network Services should take into account their specific characteristics (Koper and Tattersall 2004), in particular in should ensure that learners: A. Berlanga (B) Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]

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1. are self-directed and take responsibility for their own learning process. 2. can participate, at the same time, in formal and non-formal learning activities. 3. are heterogeneous with respect to competences acquired and sought. These characteristics imply that online communities for Learning Networks need to be equipped with Learning Network Services to facilitate professional and lifelong learners to create and manage themselves. As no institution controls the learning process, they are themselves responsible for their own learning process, and in that respect for organising and directing the network. The services provided by the Learning Network should therefore facilitate and encourage participants to manage the communities they participate in from a bottom-up perspective. Furthermore, contrary to traditional class-based learning in which all participants more or less have the same level of knowledge, in online communities for Learning Networks the background, competence level and experience of the participants will vary from person to person. They might have different learning goals, working experience, and knowledge about the topic of study but, nevertheless, will have to interact in an online context to meet their individual goals. To elaborate this further, we will refer back to the case of Eddy LeDuca, introduced in Chap. 2. Apart from being a motorcycle enthusiast, Eddy works as a policy analyst at TsA, Tomorrow-s-Aqua, an environmental consultancy firm specialising in water management. Eddy wants to develop his competences in Environmental Sciences, so he can improve his job position with TsA. To improve his competences he has been enrolled for some time in a Master in Environmental Science at the Open Universiteit Nederland, which he is about to finish. He is, therefore, a learner in the particular context of that Master. However, on the topic of water management, Eddy has a lot of knowledge, after all this is his work with TsA. So Eddy’s role ranges from being a learner in the context of his Master studies to being an expert in water management in the context of his role as policy-analyst for TsA. Eddy thus participates in at least two different communities, which are part of the same Learning Network on environmental issues. And, needless to say, the opportunities socially to interact with other community members are what make it worthwhile to Eddy to spend time in them. Through social interaction, collaboration, for instance in the form of collaborative learning activities, may come about. However, in online learning communities social interaction does not happen automatically (Kreijns 2004). For instance, in computer-supported collaborative learning environments the main pitfalls are to take social interaction for granted (because the technology is available learning and social interaction will occur) or the psychological dimension of the act of interacting (because people interact, they will develop trust, a sense of belonging, etc.) (Kreijns et al. 2003). Second, participants who interact online do not have the same kinds of opportunities to learn to know each other as they do in face-to-face situations (e.g., incidental chats, meetings in the corridor, etc.). Consequently, much of the non-verbal signals are missing, impoverishing the communication. These pitfalls apply generally to online communication. In computer-supported collaborative learning environments they are remedied to some extent by the

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presence of an institution which controls the learning process. Learning Networks, in contrast, harbour bottom-up, self-organised online learning communities only that largely rely on the active participation of their members and their willingness to share knowledge. This implies that a third pitfall has to be added, which is mistakenly to assume that communities will flourish merely because participants are registered to the network; that they will be sustainable and prosper in the long term because a central authority (e.g., tutor, teacher, institution, university, etc.) will guarantee so. Such an authority is only available in the very limited sense of maintaining the infrastructure (and perhaps providing a few other services). Fourth, and also contrary to computer-supported collaborative learning environments, Learning Network participants, initially, are not acquainted with each other and do not have a common history. Therefore they do not know who is who in the network, what their specific expertise is and, as a consequence, to whom to turn to for help. In summary, these four pitfalls make it difficult to build an infrastructure that obeys the necessary conditions for participants to develop their competences. Hence, affordances have to be provided that promote social interaction (Berlanga et al. 2007b) as well as facilitate interpersonal trust formation and an atmosphere of interpersonal trust (Rusman et al. 2007, submitted). In the rest of this chapter, we will explain how to create the social conditions under which people in online learning communities, which are embedded in a larger Learning Network, will sustain their interactions. We will discuss a set of practical guidelines that foster interaction. We start off by describing an example of an informal learning situation: people from different disciplines and backgrounds with a need of developing their competences in the area of environmental sustainability. Just as does Eddy LeDuca.

3.2 The European Environmental Sustainability Community The European Environmental Sustainability community (hereafter EES) seeks to foster a multicultural and multidisciplinary dialogue on sustainable development. This community is organised by a network of European institutions and citizens that share expertise in this area (Cörvers et al. 2007). Every participant has a different purpose for participation in the EES community. Eddy, for instance, needs to develop his competences in current and new European laws regarding environmental sustainability, so he can get the job position he wants: senior consultant of environmental policies in TsA. Other participants will need to develop their competences on this topic too, but will all have their own reasons. Participants, furthermore, are from different European countries and have diverse backgrounds, such as biologists, chemists, policy-makers, academics; and they work in different companies, institutions, or universities. This implies that EES participants need to collaborate with each other, find ways to learn together, and help each other. In doing so, they are confronted with different views on sustainability, and different types of expertise from the various disciplinary backgrounds of the participants.

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3.3 Guidelines to Foster Sustainability of Online Communities Sustainability in the context of online communities means tooling online communities in such a way that users may manage, organise, regulate and classify resources, participants and communities. Based on previous work, which analysed best practices in popular and frequently used social web applications (Berlanga et al. 2007b) and explored affordances for knowledge co-construction (Bitter-Rijpkema et al. 2005, 2002), we argue that sustainable online communities should offer services along four dimensions: self-management, self-organisation, self-categorisation, and self-regulation. Each dimension determines a guideline for providing the relevant functionality. Table 3.1 summarises them. Table 3.1 Guidelines to foster sustainable online communities Dimension

Guideline

Self-management

Facilitate participants with the creation and management of their own presence as well as their contributions within the community Facilitate participants’ interaction with others and support knowledge co-construction between them Help participants to classify and evaluate their own contributions but also those from others Allow participants to control the level of privacy of (their) contributions, as well as to decide whether these are offensive or not

Self-organisation Self-categorisation Self-regulation

3.3.1 Facilitate Participants with the Creation and Management of Their Own Presence as Well as Their Contributions Within the Community Social presence theory (Short et al. 1976) argues that the social impact of a communication medium depends on the social presenceit allows communicators to have. Computer-mediated environments, such as online learning communities in Learning Networks, do not allow face-to-face communication, non verbal clues are missing and, as a consequence, social presence is weak (Rogers and Lea 2005). To remedy this, participants should be stimulated and enabled to project themselves socially and affectively, to manage their own presence (Rourke et al. 1999). Allowing setting up a profile for themselves and the contacts they gather will help them do so. Allowing them to assemble communities around a topic of their interest and to create learning activities will do so too. To facilitate participants with the creation of their profile, a template should be available. Although developed in a context of formal education, a good example is the pEXPi profile template (abbreviation for personal expertise inventory or personal identity and expertise profile) (Ogg et al. 2004; Rusman et al. submitted; Rutjens et al. 2003). It is an easy-to-use template that participants of an online community can use to introduce their expertise. The pEXPi template provides a

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format that allows members to give context information, communication style preferences and learning ambitions. It serves as a means to start further interaction and enhance the chance of fruitful collaboration. It also provides a personal touch to the (re)presentation of oneself in the online community by offering information such as the participant’s picture, name, interests, etc., enhancing a participant’s recognisability to others in the community and indeed the Learning Network as a whole. Figure 3.1 shows, by way of example, how our Eddy LeDuca might present himself to the rest of EES participants using the pEXPi template. It is important to point out that, in our view, profiles are not merely a collection of personal data but mainly a means to foster interaction (Berlanga et al. 2008a), encourage participation (Brouns et al. 2007), support initial trust formation between participants (Rusman 2004; Rusman et al. 2007), and promote participants’ visibility and awareness of others within the online community (Girgensohn and Lee 2002). The information that the profile should in the first instance contain depends on the goals the community members have. After all, communities in a Learning Network serve no higher order, collective goals; they are merely there to serve the interests of the individuals that make up the community. So, although the inclusion of information such as first name, surname, screen name, and email should be mandatory to guarantee interactions at the network level, participants should be allowed to decide themselves what optional information to display in their profile, as well as to determine the level of privacy attached to it (accessible to the Learning Network as a whole, to specific communities only, to specific people – ‘friends’ – only, etc.). Optional information could comprise reasons for participating in the online community, preferences, interest, competences to be developed, favourite resources or contacts (Berlanga et al. 2008b). To support the creation of contactsin online learning communities, the services should allow that contacts can include, for instance, peers, teachers, tutors, institutions or even true friends (Boyd 2006). It is desirable, furthermore, to have graphical representations of connection between contacts, this supports awareness, social interaction and the exchange of reputational information (see also Sect. 3.4.2). Having contacts stored using a common format, such as Friend Of A Friend (http://www.foaf-project.org/), not only makes it easier to create an overview of the members of the Learning Network (Vogten et al. 2008), but also facilitates the exchange and the use of common information about participants’ contacts. Supporting the creation of online learning communities in Learning Networks could be done at the level of creating online (sub)communities for formal or noformal learning. For instance, imagine that Eddy LeDuca would like to create a new non-formal learning community, called EES courthouse so EES participants can exchange knowledge and experience about current and new European laws regarding environmental sustainability. It is important that participants can create this kind of (sub) communities, to foster interaction and knowledge sharing. The last recommendation to be included in this guideline is to support the creation of learning activities incorporating, for instance, resources, courses, lessons, assessments, learning materials, and so on. Participants should be able to create their own learning activities, modify existing ones, and distribute them for sharing

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Fig. 3.1 pEXPi profile template, a worked-out example

A. Berlanga et al.

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with others. The functionality to share and distribute learning activities should support inputs from different sources such as, for instance, blogs, photos, maps, and devices as mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs and the like. This includes on-thespot contributions to the community, such as described by (De Jong et al. 2007), combining blog and mobile functionalities. Sharing and distributing is but one step away from the next guideline, which marries sharing with actual interaction.

3.3.2 Facilitate Participants’ Interaction with Others and Support Knowledge Co-construction Between Them To facilitate interaction and reactions to contributions by others, participants should be able to comment on each other’s resources and profiles, recommend a learning activities or a contact to someone else, or share a set of favourite learning activities. Eddy, for instance, has a collection of favourite links to electronic resources, articles he has written, figures, etc. which he considers relevant to environmental sustainability. He should be able easily to include them (or refer to them) in the online learning community, to share them with the other participants and recommend them to his colleagues. Moreover, Eddy needs mechanisms to find people, resources and communities and visualise and browse the relationship between them. The next step up from informing is knowledge co-creation. To support this, participants should be able to develop a common ground first. This is not easy; to rethink one’s own position and look for new arguments in the debate requires processing new ideas and adaptations of one’s own ideas. Community members with interesting different perspectives on the topic under investigation can trigger fruitful discussions. However, divergent ideas sometimes lead to irritation and conflicts. Affordances and interventions are needed, therefore, to reduce miscommunication, trigger effective knowledge communication and facilitate shared understanding. This kind of support can be provided using tools for discussion and knowledge representation such as Knowledge Forum (Scardamalia and Bereiter 2006), Belvédère (Suthers 2001) or TC3 (Text Composer, Computer supported and Collaborative tool) (Kanselaar et al. 2003). Another example of such a tool is the Ideasticker (see Fig. 3.2). Developed at the Open Universiteit Nederland, the Ideasticker is a mediating tool that provides anchors for exchanging ideas, and ultimately, knowledge co-construction. It is a post-it like tool that can be activated any time by the learners in a community or can be programmed to automatically pop-up in a separate window. There are several other such tools available, for an overview see (Van Bruggen 2003). To explain what these tools are capable of, we delve a little deeper into Ideasticker. Ideasticker provides a simple format to articulate the ideas (proposal field) and its underlying motivation (motivation field). The participant also specifies her position regarding the effects of her idea or proposal (position field), and can indicate what type of reaction she is looking for (expectation field asking, for example, elaboration of the idea, approval or rejection). The structuring options are available for posting

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Fig. 3.2 Ideasticker screen

new ideas as well as for replying to existing ones. In this way it becomes immediately clear on which aspect of the idea the other participant holds different views, to which aspect she agrees or for which aspect she wants additional information. Furthermore, a social chat option with ‘emoticons’ is included in the Ideasticker form. Emoticons are used to communicate emotional content in written or message form (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon); they might help to express nonverbal cues beyond what is found in the verbal text of a message, and may enhance the exchange of emotional information (Derks et al. 2007), which facilitates participants to express their feelings and fosters interpersonal trust formation (see also Sect. 3.4.1 below). Ideasticker is a tool that can be used across different learning activities. For example, to exchange ideas between participants about climate change risks and the pertinent European regulations; or to facilitate teams to work collaboratively solving ill-structured problems, such as the development of a research plan or the definition of recommendations to tackle an environmental issue. Imagine that Eddy and five more participants decide to analyse a case about the impact of global warming in the Arctic. The team wants to investigate the problem, develop a collective solution, and report their findings including policy recommendations at European level, and their

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impact for stakeholders. Using Ideasticker this team can discuss ideas, solutions and policies in a structured way and avoid misunderstanding while collaborating. Distributing materials to others and collaborating with others in knowledge co-construction activities, raises the issue of how to keep track of contributions, whether they are made by you or by others, either alone or in a collaborative effort. This issue, as well as the matter of the privacy arrangements to go with it, is addressed in the two guidelines to follow.

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