Learning Implications of Korean Online Communities: Towards a New Paradigm of Social Learning
한국 온라인 커뮤니티 활동에 함의된 배움의 의미: 소셜러닝의 새로운 패러다임
- Lynn Ilon
- 사범대학 교육학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- South Korea; online communities; social learning; informal learning; learning; lifelong learning; sociocultural context
- 학위논문 (박사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 사범대학 교육학과, 2017. 8. Lynn Ilon.
- This study explores learning in online communities. The study inductively explored the meaning of learning, how learning occurs, and what implications it has for the online environment. In so doing, I examined the dialogue, activities and structure to discern the implications learning within five online communities which are not generally defined for the purposes of learning. For example, their topics focused on local cities and hobbies. By choosing communities that are not necessarily focused on learning, but trying to find the underlying learning within such communities, the studys finding might be significant academically and practically in understanding how digital societies work and which online factors crucially affect learning in diverse fields.
Although the main theoretical framework was Social Learning Theory, the concepts of Situated Learning and Communities of Practice were also referenced. A mixed methods research design using various methodologies was employed to produce a fluent, intensive and comprehensive source of data. I conducted an online/offline survey of 150 online community members in their 20-60s. I invited 23 survey respondents (who were relatively more active online community members) for further observations of their activities and for interviews in order to approach their deeper thoughts. I also analysed the structure of the websites to determine how members related to each other and conducted their interactions and learning. The findings in the study are summarised into six themes.
The online community classification standards were divided as two categories when explored in a sociocultural context: structure or function and content or purpose. In terms of structure/function, I found the platform of an online community determined whether the online community is either an informative or reciprocal network. Meanwhile, the term online community was differently named in the Korean and English literature. In South Korea it was called Community and (online) Favourite Club, depending on the purpose. They were differentiated by their purposes in the building or joining of online communities and the type of contents provided through online communities.
Research participants actively participated in learning when the conditions at the individual level and at the collective level were conducive. While they used the collective learning environment for their own personal study, they generally showed little interest in improving that environment for the collective good.
Not only did affective components cause participants more active participations, but their participation partially depended upon the integration with others. These affective aspects seemed to be significantly linked to the concept of play. Online community members felt relaxed expressing the term learning – linking it with hobby or play.
The combination of online and offline activities tended to trigger creative learning, which balanced theories with applications. This type of learning was the opposite of more formal learning in that it was bottom-up learning.
South Koreans unique moral, affective and sociocultural factors related to relationships affected cooperation and contributions at both individual and collective level in online communities. Social factors, especially relationships, were significant for online communities including learning. In many cases, relationships had to be fostered before informal learning could begin. These relationships, however, sometimes had negative effects on learning. Some affective factors such as selfishness and laziness, and the culture of Che-Myoun and Noon-Chi (high pressure to honour relationships based on age and reputation) got in the way of building relationships and learning.
This learning/relationship link bled into other findings. The study found that participants considered working, enjoying and living as learning. These were both the means and end for one another. Since the three concepts, learning, enjoying, and communicating connoted communal fulfilments, the awareness of learning would eventually accord with the concept of social learning.
The research findings showed that people have enjoyed their life by fostering and maintaining their own informal learning through various platforms of daily life. I concluded and summarised several relevant aspects of this phenomenon.
In general, learning might happen through each individuals interaction with other persons and sociocultural agents, not simply for the purposes of acquiring knowledge or information. Communication occurs to support, share, cooperate and so on. Reflecting, experiencing and choosing among these motivated actions are a further process of learning. By internalising and circulating new knowledge, learning could happen and learning could be maintained. Through this process, both individuals and communities develop. Moreover, people tend to experience learning as enjoyment, and experience enjoyment as learning. This is similar to play, and a natural part of life.
Learning has different emotional and social meanings within the South Korean context. There are, effectively, two words for learning in the Korean vocabulary. One word is rather informal, casual and practical, while the other one is more formal and strict, connoting particular formal relationships with teachers or trainers. This can cause confusion not just due to the choice of words, but the choice of meaning. This is because the meaning of learning becomes complicated because the learning experienced may not be the learning one actually preferred or chosen. Learning, in this way, is both by culture and by language, very much social within the Korean context.
Two traditional aspects, relationships and collective society play a significant role in constructing and maintaining their own special social learning in South Korea. Koreans tend to prefer belonging to a certain group, and hanging out together for collective works, due to the importance of the sociocultural atmosphere, which naturally adheres to these traditional concepts. Accordingly, they gather, and go where other people gather. Therefore, they build their platforms in an environment where it is easy to gather – the platforms are online communities. Thus, Koreans want to form relationships with other members, and focus primarily on maintaining such relationships instead of focusing on personal necessities or contributions. A strong humane bond involving the building and strengthening of relationships is a significant factor in maintaining online communities, and thus, learning is also maintained.