Virtual Communities and their Importance for Informal Learning
Keywords:Virtual Communities, informal learning, multiliteracies
AbstractThis paper deals with the concept of informal learning in virtual communities on the Internet. Initially we discuss the need for continuing education and its relation with informal learning. Virtual communities are next defined and then compared to real communities. Case studies are employed, focused on some specific kinds of virtual communities. We examine how they operate, how their members interact, what values they share and what kind of knowledge they gather. The learning process within virtual communities is then examined. We look at the kind of information and knowledge available in some particular virtual communities, and comment on its organisation. Next, the learning process of virtual communities is compared to that of Open Universities. Finally, we claim that the participation in virtual communities is not only a form of continuing education but also a contribution towards the multiliteracies needed for working as well as living in the 21st century.
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