Collaborative Networked Learning

Collaborative Networked Learning is a method developed by Dr. Charles Findley in the mid 1980's as part of his work on designing the classroom of the future for the knowledge worker.

Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a common purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their success. CNL occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate and negotiation meaning with one another within a contextual framework which may be facilitated by an online coach, mentor or group leader

Three important considerations motivate the focus on CNL.

CNL is sound educational practice.
Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with two other categories-- competitive and individualistic. Competitive activities, for example, include those in which only one person can win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or status, rather than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence. Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation with no interaction with others, or when a learner interacts only with a self-paced manual or CBI, rather than when all members share ideas with each other.

The overwhelming conclusion of research in the goals of learning environments is that collaborative,cooperative goal directed activities facilitated by qualified experts leads to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement translates into higher productivity.

CNL is sound business practice.
Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative, team oriented tasks. Learning workers share information with one another in order to accomplish common tasks in a small group. Professionals share information with each other, and learn something about each others' specialization in order to reach consensus on a common problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity when workers learned from each other how their different individual parts of the task fit together to produce the whole. All of these different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve collaboration.

Life-long learning in the workplace is becoming a necessity rather than an ideal. The need for collaboration is great and will continue. By facilitating collaborative methods of learning, we could help workers acquire individually and collectively the rapidly, changing knowledge required in the high-tech workplace.

Collaboration is a condition of learning in the information workplace.
While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to manipulate objects and memorized actions, the worker in the modern organization learns how to think, learn and apply information to a task.

Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach problems from different vantage points, testing out assumptions,and redefining meanings,i.e. creative thinking in order to develop new viewpoints. Workers need to engage in the social,collaborative exchange of ideas in order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses, conduct experiments and reflect on outcomes. Basically, workers are learning in groups to make meaning out of information. Not only do workers need to make meaning out of the information but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to share that meaning with others.