How large-scale online environments — such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), intelligent tutoring systems, learning games, collaborative programming communities, community tutorial systems, social learning networks and numerous informal communities of learners on platforms like Reddit, YouTube or fanfiction sites — are contributing to learning is the topic of a new book series from MIT Press. And, the series editors are seeking proposals for books that investigate, critique and explain these large-scale environments.
“Just as large-scale learning environments are diverse, we seek a diverse set of methodological and theoretical perspectives to inform our series, ranging from learning science to computer science to socio-cultural research perspectives and beyond,” the editors Nichole Pinkard, associate professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University, and Justin Reich, executive director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, noted in an announcement of the new book series. “We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary collaborations that can shed light on large-scale learning from multiple perspectives. The series will examine large-scale learning environments at multiple levels, including the technological underpinnings, policy consequences, social contexts and relationships, learning frameworks, and the experiences of educators and learners who use them.”
Reich explained that there are three kinds of large-scale environments that have largely been studied by three different communities.
“Some large-scale learning environments are defined by a learning trajectory set by instructors — like the course elements laid out in MOOCs,” he said. “Those have been studied by one group of researchers. Some large-scale environments are defined by a learning trajectory set by the students themselves, in the adaptive environments called intelligent tutors or cognitive tutors or computer-assisted instruction. Those systems have been studied by a second group of learners. The third set of large scale learning environments are those shaped by peer interactions, such as the Scratch community or the many interest-driven communities online.”
For all the differences in the three large-scale learning environments, they also have many similarities, he added. “The challenges to addressing issues of equity are more or less equally problematic across all three domains. We’re hoping that the book series can be an invitation to diverse researchers to make connections across these research communities.”
The field of large-scale learning refers to the study of networked environments with many learners and few experts to guide them. Such learning is increasing for the vast majority of people in the networked world, Reich said. “Once people are done with formal schooling — typically pretty early in life — much of people’s additional learning happens in large-scale learning environments. And, then, within the formal school system, there will be continued efforts to weave large-scale learning as part of the fabric of K-12 schooling and higher education.”
For more information about submitting a book proposal, visit https://mitpress.mit.edu/ms-submission. Proposals are being accepted via email by Susan Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reich is taking questions about the series via email at email@example.com.
Banner image credit: Joi Ito