A Comparison of Social Learning Systems: Crochet Alongs and Moocs

  • 1 University of Reading,


Essentially social learning is a system where the learning occurs with and from others. Internet-based technologies have provided environments within which social learning can take place among very large groups covering various topics, ranging from academic to leisure.

In general MOOCs are academic-related courses offered by educational institutions, following a model of formal education, however they also take advantage of the concept of social learning, encouraging participants to learn together and from each other.

Crochet Alongs (CALs) are non-formal courses offered outside educational institutions. CALs give crocheters the opportunity to learn more about their craft within an Internet-based social learning system, while working independently on their own instantiation of a pattern released at intervals. Participants offer support to each other via social media, sometimes seeking help in overcoming problems and other times just to share success.

There is a considerable body of research into the MOOC phenomena, there is no such body of research into CALs, or other Internet-based craft courses. There are a number of similarities between MOOCs and CALs with some CALs attracting thousands of participants to freely available online courses. Contrasting MOOCs and CALs offers educationalists to explore alternatives approaches to social learning.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2015). The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media. Berrett-Koehler Publishers & ASTD Press.

  • 2. Bozkurt, A., Keskin, N. O., & de Waard, I. (2016). Research Trends in Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Theses and Dissertations: Surfing the Tsunami Wave. Open Praxis, 8(3), 203-221.

  • 3. CEDEFOP. (2011). Glossary: Quality in Education and Training.

  • 4. Chen, B., & Bryer, T. (2012). Investigating instructional strategies for using social media in formal and informal learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1), 87-104.

  • 5. Clark, D. (2013, April 16). MOOCs: taxonomy of 8 types of MOOC. Donald Clark Plan B [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/moocs-taxonomy-of-8-types-of-mooc.html

  • 6. Conole, G. (2014). A new classification schema for MOOCs. The International Journal for Innovation and Quality in Learning, 2(3), 65-77.

  • 7. Conole, G. (2015). MOOCs as disruptive technologies: strategies for enhancing the learner experience and quality of MOOCs. Revista de Educación a Distancia, 39.

  • 8. Cormier, D. (2008, October 2). The CCK08 MOOC–Connectivism Course, 1/4 Way. Dave’s Educational Blog [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2008/10/02/the-cck08-mooc-connectivism-course-14-way/

  • 9. Daniel, J. (2012). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility. Journal of interactive Media in education, 2012(3).

  • 10. Dickie, V. A. (2003). The role of learning in quilt making. Journal of Occupational Science, 10(3), 120-129.

  • 11. Downes, S. (2008). Places to go: Connectivism & connective knowledge. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 5(1), 6.

  • 12. Ebben, M., & Murphy, J. S. (2014). Unpacking MOOC scholarly discourse: a review of nascent MOOC scholarship. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(3), 328-345.

  • 13. Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2011). Autoethnography: an overview. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, 273-290.

  • 14. Gauntlett, D. (2011). Making is connecting. Polity Press.

  • 15. Hazell, S. (2013). 200 Crochet Stitches. Search Press.

  • 16. Highwood, E.J., & Williams, S.A. (2018, July 13). Crocheting together – an example of social learning. elliehighwood [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://elliehighwood.com/2018/07/13/crocheting-together-an-example-of-social-learning/

  • 17. Jordan, K. (2015). MOOC Research Literature Browser. Retrieved from http://www.katyjordan.com/moocliterature/

  • 18. Kucirkova, N., & Littleton, K. (2015). Digital learning hubs: theoretical and practical ideas for innovating massive open online courses. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-7. doi:10.1080/17439884.2015.1054835

  • 19. Le Deuff, O. (2010). Réseaux de loisirs créatifs et nouveaux modes d’apprentissage. Distances et savoirs, 8(4), 601-621.

  • 20. Liyanagunawardena, T. R., Adams, A. A., & Williams, S. A. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(3), 202-227.

  • 21. Liyanagunawardena, T. R., Lundqvist, K. Ø., & Williams, S. A. (2015). Who are with us: MOOC learners on a FutureLearn course. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3), 557-569.

  • 22. Mayne, A. (2016). Feeling lonely, feeling connected: Amateur knit and crochet makers online. Craft Research, 7(1), 11-29.

  • 23. Rheingold, H. (2000). The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. MIT press.

  • 24. Rodriguez, C. O. (2012). MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like courses: Two successful and distinct course formats for massive open online courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2012/Rodriguez.pdf

  • 25. Scanlon, E., McAndrew, P., & O’Shea, T. (2015). Designing for Educational Technology to Enhance the Experience of Learners in Distance Education: How Open Educational Resources, Learning Design and MOOCs Are Influencing Learning. Journal of interactive Media in education, 2015(1). doi:10.5334/jime.al

  • 26. Scheepjes. (n.d.). Scheepjes CAL2016 – Last Dance on the Beach. Retrieved from http://www.scheepjes.com/en/cals/scheepjes-cals/scheepjes-cal-2016/information/

  • 27. Shah, D. (2018, January 18). By The Numbers: MOOCS in 2017. Class Central [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.class-central.com/report/mooc-stats-2017/

  • 28. Siemens, G., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2015). Preparing for the Digital University: a review of the history and current state of distance, blended, and online learning. Retrieved from http://linkresearchlab.org/PreparingDigitalUniversity.pdf

  • 29. Stalp, M. C., & Winge, T. M. (2008). My collection is bigger than yours: tales from the handcrafter’s stash. Home Cultures, 5(2), 197-218.

  • 30. Stylecraft. (n.d.). Carousel. Retrieved from http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Carousel/0_CAFA122_CAFA150_CAFA151.htm

  • 31. UNESCO. (2012). International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011.

  • 32. Wenger, E. (1998a). Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. Systems thinker, 9(5), 2-3.

  • 33. Wenger, E. (1998b). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.

  • 34. Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

  • 35. Wenger, E. (2001). Supporting communities of practice. Retrieved from https://guard.canberra.edu.au/opus/copyright_register/repository/53/153/01_03_CP_technology_survey_v3.pdf

  • 36. Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In C. Blackmore(Ed.), Social learning systems and communities of practice (pp. 179-198). Springer.

  • 37. Wenger, E., White, N., & Smith, J. D. (2009). Digital habitats: Stewarding technology for communities. CPsquare.

  • 38. Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Communities of practice a brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/

  • 39. White, G. (2015, January 25). The Barkham Hookers 2015 CAL...Introduction and General Info. Confessions of a Barkham Hooker [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://gaynorwhite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-barkham-hoookers-2015-cal.html


Journal + Issues