Changing “as learner” focus – analytics to “chamber music”

A much delayed blog post that I’m getting out in a hurry now.

A few weeks ago I started yet another MOOC with the intent of it being the demonstration of “as learner” for the Network & Global Learning course. As with all other attempts to start a MOOC, it was a failure. Mostly due to my own time constraints and unexpected time sinks. But also because the content and the approach used in the MOOC didn’t fit and I wasn’t motivated enough or have enough time to bridge the gap.

Time to change focus and approach. Rather than a formal course, the next attempt “as learner” will be to engage with the network and the communities it contains around a particular topic. Walking my own path through the network(s) associated with the topic, rather than following the path laid out by someone else. An approach that will have it’s own challenges.

The topic (purpose is perhaps a better descriptor) this time will be “chamber music”. Actually, that’s just a highfalutin way of saying that Mr 10 and I are going to try and play a some duets. He’s learning oboe and clarinet, while I’m trying to get back into the alto saxophone (not the most traditional of combinations, but you make do with what you have). Playing together seems a good way to motivate both he and I to play more, and also to provide an activity we can undertake together. Plus, if it all comes off, Mr 8 is going to picking up an instrument next year. The Jones trio may not be too far off.

How to go about it?

The purpose of the “as learner” task as part of netgl is to provide participants with a practical experience to which to apply the literature they are reading. In theory, the literature around netgl should help them reflect and perhaps plan how they go about their “as learner” task. I’ll try to demonstrate one particular approach to doing this.

The readings for next week have a focus on community. The CLEM framework (adopted from another context) talks about looking for

  • Community – folk getting together to share ideas and experience of a practice
  • Literature – ideas and experience around the practice formalised into published forms
  • Examples – examples of others engaging in the practice
  • Models – the terminology and schema associated with the practice


Let’s start with models and in particular terminology. You can’t search effectively unless you know the commonly accepted terminology.

Chamber music, duets, trios etc are some of the terms I believe apply, but as I’m not really a member of the music community/set, I can’t be sure.

Community music is a new term found whilst searching. Defined as

Community music is music played in communities. It can be recreational, cultural or religious and can embrace any genre, from classical to popular to traditional music from diverse cultures. Community music is generally practiced on an amateur and non-profit basis, although there are professional musicians who work in communities.


Search for “music community” reveals an interesting collection of sites

  • Creative Commons – Music communities;

    A list of “exemplary music communities” put together by the Creative Commons folk. Includes a range of sites for finding CC licensed music and platforms for sharing music. Most of the sites appear aimed more at more advanced musicians, but I assume many can be be used to advantage by us novices. Most do seem aimed at sharing performance, rather than actual sheet music and aiding learning.

  • Music in community from the Music Australia site.
    Which links off to Music in Communities network. These appear to be more “portals” to existing music communities etc, rather than network-based communities to get playing. Including a directory of Australian music groups to join.



Have decided that both sheet music and performance can be classed as examples for my purposes.

Using 8notes

I ended up paying to join the 8notes community. This granted access to some sheet music that Mr 10 and I have started playing. It’s probably too complex. I need to explore a bit further and find something simpler for our earlier forays.

The rest of this post is a collection of summaries and thoughts from the netgl literature used in the course. It’s an attempt to use this literature to frame what I’m doing in this task. It’s something that I haven’t finished. But points to further exploration

  1. What type of community is 8Notes? What other types of sources of learning/networks do I need to engage with?
  2. How do Mr 10 and progress through our relationship with these networks? What impact does it have on our learning?

I have to admit that part of the cutting off of this post arises from the fact that I found myself pondering too much the theoretical side of this (trying to understand what I was doing through the netgl literature). As a result I wasn’t spending enough time actually engaged in playing with Mr 10. A feeling made worse by some additional workload and other factors.

Types of community

The other reading for next week – Riel and Polin (2004) identify three types of learning community

  1. Task-based learning communities – come together for a certain time to produce a specific product.
  2. Practice-based learning communities – larger groups with shared goals that provide support. Apparently, where a CoP fits.
  3. Knowledge-based learning communities – much like a CoP but focused explicitly on the formal production of external knowledge about a practice.

I’m not convinced that Riel and Polin’s three learning communities capture the full breadth of possibilities. But then that may simply be my on-going distrust of the CoP approach. But it’s also indicative of the perceived misfit between this type of conceptualisation and what I experience when engaging in learning on the Internet.

Perhaps that’s because when engaged in learning via the Internet it’s about traversing a huge network that consists of many different communities. Perhaps so much so that the desire to identify, classify, and enumerate what communities are out there says more about our desire to put stuff in boxes and not wanting to admit it’s way more complex. Perhaps so complex that any attempt to put in boxes loses more than it gains?

This is where I think Dron’s and Anderson’s (2014) identification of groups, networks, sets, and collectives does a better job of capturing the full spectrum of what happens in terms of learning on the network.

The communities Riel and Polin (2004) identify perhaps largely fit within Dron and Anderson’s (2014) notion of groups. The distinguishing factor being that the membership of these communities/groups are listable. For example, the Research Supervisors CoP at USQ fits within Riel and Polin’s (2004) practice-based learning communities category and its membership is listable through the attendance records at meetings. Dron and Anderson (2014) actually identify CoPs as an intersection of Group and Net, and I think this perhaps highlights the source of my bias against CoPs. The theoretical form of CoPs as discussed by proponents is perhaps what fits at the intersection of Group and Net. However, the implementation of the CoPs that I’ve observed tends to be learn much more toward the Group, than the net aspect. Perhaps this is because of how I’ve engaged, or perhaps due to the technologies they’ve used (almost entirely synchronous meetings).

**** I need to read and write more about collectives, maybe later ****

Identity transformation

Riel and Polin (2004) also talk about the focus of CoP and Activity Theory on learning being “a process of identity transformation – a socially construct and socially managed experience” (p. 19). A transformation that is evolves along with the individual’s journey through the community…….this unfinished thought and idea is something to be picked up later.


Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and Social Media. Edmonton: AU Press. Retrieved from

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

One thought on “Changing “as learner” focus – analytics to “chamber music”

  1. Pingback: As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me. | charmedlearning

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