To make Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) experiences focused and efficient, I have summarized several basic structures to help with planning.
Purpose defined by organizer
The organizer/ facilitator of CNL might defined the purpose in advance of securing participation. In this type of CNL, participants would join the group based upon a desire to share in accomplishing the pre-defined purpose. The purpose could be very specific such as: " The members of this group will prepare a marketing strategy for value added services for a CNL Platform;" or more general, such as: The members of this group will learn about and share information regarding common creative licensing issues for organizational learning.”
Purpose defined by the group
The purpose might initially be more loosely defined, based upon the prior knowledge of the selected group of participants such as, "the members of this group will pool their knowledge to develop a long-range adoption plan for CNL." Or, "the purpose of this CNL forum is for experts and novices to share their experiences moderating a
learning forum." As the group learns more they will continue to refine
their purpose. Learning in the context of problem-solving is a example of a more general group purpose, where the specific learning and outcomes
are refined based upon the goal and prior knowledge of the invited
participants. For example, the experts from different fields might be involved in developing a crisis management plan as their outcome.
Purpose defined by on-going needs
The learning purpose in these situations is open-ended and on-going. The group with a broadly defined learning goal will determine specific operational purposes based upon current needs. Frequently, existing learning groups define their purpose based upon a long-term mission. On-going learning within a particular domain and group is motivated by the rapid rates of change being experienced in our society and the work group or knowledge domain.
The group which starts with an open purpose may from time to time want to refine their purpose, based upon new information and current mission, for two reasons:
When one speaks of purpose-driven CNL, it does not necessarily imply either a closely defined initial purpose or an open purpose. It implies that as part of the experience the group develops a shared purpose and that their interaction is focused on accomplishing that purpose. The purpose-driven interaction criteria distinguishes CNL group activities from general personal blogs or chat rooms in which individuals post and share the latest available information in an area.
While the group has a stated work-learning related purpose such as those mentioned earlier, it is also likely to fulfill a social functional for the members. It is important that both the stated purpose and the personal purposes of the members be considered as the group interaction continues