A Comparison of Social Learning Systems: Crochet Alongs and MOOCs

Shirley Williams [shirley.williams@reading.ac.uk], E.J. Highwood [e.j.highwood@reading.ac.uk], University of Reading, United Kingdom


Essentially social learning is a system where the learning occurs with and from others. Internet-based technologies have provided environments within which social learning can take place among very large groups covering various topics, ranging from academic to leisure.

In general MOOCs are academic-related courses offered by educational institutions, following a model of formal education, however they also take advantage of the concept of social learning, encouraging participants to learn together and from each other.

Crochet Alongs (CALs) are non-formal courses offered outside educational institutions. CALs give crocheters the opportunity to learn more about their craft within an Internet-based social learning system, while working independently on their own instantiation of a pattern released at intervals. Participants offer support to each other via social media, sometimes seeking help in overcoming problems and other times just to share success.

There is a considerable body of research into the MOOC phenomena, there is no such body of research into CALs, or other Internet-based craft courses. There are a number of similarities between MOOCs and CALs with some CALs attracting thousands of participants to freely available online courses. Contrasting MOOCs and CALs offers educationalists to explore alternatives approaches to social learning.

Abstract in Spanish

El aprendizaje social es, esencialmente, un sistema donde el aprendizaje sucede con, y gracias a, los otros. Las tecnologías basadas en internet proporcionan marcos donde el aprendizaje social puede tener lugar entre grupos muy amplios cubriendo aspectos que van desde el académico al ocio.

En general MOOCs son cursos en el ámbito académico ofrecidos por instituciones educacionales y dentro de un modelo de educación formal, pero donde hacen uso del concepto de aprendizaje social para motivar a los participantes a aprender juntos y de los demás.

Crochet Alongs (CALs) son, en cambio, cursos no formales ofrecidos fuera de las instituciones de educación. Los CALs dan a sus miembros la oportunidad de aprender más acerca de su oficio dentro de un sistema de aprendizaje social basado en Internet, mientras trabajan independientemente en su propio diseño de un patrón lanzado a intervalos. Los participantes se ofrecen apoyo mutuo a través de las redes sociales, a veces buscando ayuda para superar problemas y otras veces solo para compartir los logros.

Existe un considerable campo de investigación sobre los fenómenos relacionados con MOOC, sin embargo no existe tal cuerpo de investigación en el ámbito de los CALs u otros cursos similares basados en Internet. Hay una serie de similitudes entre los MOOC y CAL, con algunas CAL son capaces de atraer a miles de participantes a cursos en línea de libre acceso. Los MOOC y CALs ofrecen educadores para explorar enfoques alternativos al aprendizaje social.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, learning management system, LMS, interaction,

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