The Challenge of Open and Decentered Learning and Knowledge Creation

The Challenge of Open and Decentered Learning and Knowledge Creation

Call for Symposium Papers – To be held at the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning will be held on 2-3-4 April, 2012 in Maastricht, The Netherlands (

Symposium organizers: Joseph Corneli, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, [email protected]; Marisa Ponti, Department of Applied Information technology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, [email protected]

The idea that personal learning environments and open, flexible, modular, and interoperable learning infrastructure such as Open Learning Networks could help institutions, teachers, and learners break off with a transmissionist view of learning and embrace a social view of learning has excited recent attention among educators and education commentators. These open and decentered environments are said to move away from the metaphor of the classroom model embodied in Course Management Systems (CMS) and built on central areas of expertise, such as subject-matter authorities represented by teachers; enacted by way of filtering of knowledge through recognized outlets; and reproduced via institutionalized assessment procedures. The Web 2.0 tools and services, the participatory approach they embody, and the connectedness they allow no longer restrict learners to the confines of the classroom, and the authority of the instructor and their textbook for the final word on the subject matter of a lecture. A sense of impending crisis of the centralized and closed-access CMS predominant in Higher Education pervades this debate. However, the actual situation is far from clear. 

For this symposium, we invite scholars and educational practitioners to analyze the contents of this discussion, with the aim to question the main claims made about centralization and decentralization of online learning environments — and to analyze the nature of the debate itself.  As organizers of this symposium, we contend that the debate is not yet empirically and theoretically informed, and we suggest that a more critical approach is needed to investigate the push towards decentralized and open learning environments and their implications for learners. For example, how has this situation come about and what are the precedents? What views of educational practices are assumed and supported by open and decentered environments compared to CMS? Does the distribution of subject-matter authority change if mediated by (different) digital technologies? Who establishes legitimate knowledge? Does decentralization of learning and knowledge creation really conflict with CMS? How are the challenges of filtering information and validating knowledge met in decentralized learning environments?

We particularly welcome contributions which combine empirical data with theoretical reflections. We also welcome contributions which critically examine the terms of this debate.
The papers submitted must be max 8 pages in length (including references) and are expected to deal with work in progress, and are not to have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Authors must use a paper template available here:
The number of symposium papers that will be accepted for presentation is limited to four.
The organizers will explore ways to republish the best symposium paper(s) in a journal.

Symposium Paper Deadline: September 15, 2011

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.