Online Learning as Online Participation

Hrastinski, S. (2008). A theory of online learning as online participation. Computers & Education, 52, 78–82.


This article discusses previous theories and research to support the implication of online learning as online participation. The author presents theories to define participation and empirical evidence to support the argument that online participation drives online learning. Participation is described as a complex process involving activities engaging the learning and recognizing talking and writing as only one aspect of participation.

The author discusses online participation studies and explores the conceptualization of online learner participation. This participation is seen as complex, involving interaction with peers and teacher, as well as with the content. In the online environment it is supported with both physical tools (computers and software) and psychological tools (communication and relationships). Using the internet to connect with fellow learners, the student is able to learn from others and exchange information. This form of participation continues outside of the classroom as well. This paper states that online participation is a complex process consisting of many engaging activities supported by both physical and psychological tools that enable the learner to take part and maintain relations. It is concluded that in order to increase online learning we must increase online participation.

A particular example is given in the paper describing how someone sitting in a hotel room, preparing slides for a presentation to be given the next day, is a fundamentally social event. The audience is considered when preparing the work, colleagues are considered as the work represents them as well, this inclusion of others in the thought process of completing the work makes it a social event. This example illustrates how our thoughts and reflections are social and can be considered participation as well.



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