Offline networked learning

Networked learning via digital networks is a widely adopted pedagogical approach since it promotes connections among learners, teachers, communities and resources. But using the Internet for networked learning is not always possible. Reasons include a lack of access, a desire for autonomy, a need for privacy. In many rural areas, developing countries, and spaces where access to the Internet may be purposely limited (for example in prisons), there are opportunities to use smartphones, tablets or laptops without a connection to the Internet. Enabling users to harness the power of these devices and take advantage of networked learning without the Internet has been made possible by low cost, low power network hubs like Raspberry Pis. This approach is called offline networked learning; it can support conversation, collaboration, resource sharing, visualisation and consolidation, thus enhancing the process of learning as well as the outcomes. For example, the approach has been used in rural Zambia to enable teachers to come together from different village schools to access digital teaching resources, share their own materials with other teachers during training workshops, and take selected materials back to their own schools. We argue that the approach can help teachers to engage in the slow and complex thinking needed to find more effective ways of educating learners. Technical and digital skills capacity and competencies must be sufficient to enable a successful initiative.

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