Networked Scholarship

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Networked Scholarship
∗University of Toronto; †Virginia Tech
Community has traditionally been anchored in local, neighborhood interactions
and enshrined as a code word for social cohesion. “Community” usually
connotes people socially and cognitively encapsulated by homogeneous,
broadly embracing groups (Hillery, 1955; Wellman, 2001a; Wellman, 2002;
Wellman & Leighton, 1979). People in group-based societies deal principally
with fellow members of the few groups to which they belong: at home, in
school, in the neighborhood, at work or in voluntary organizations. They work
in a discrete work group within a single organization; they live in a household
in a neighborhood; they are members of one or two kinship groups; and they
participate in structured voluntary organizations: churches, bowling leagues,
unions, and the like. There have been fears since the Industrial Revolution that
traditional group-based community has been “lost”. From the early 1960s,
the balance of analysis swung away from bewailing this purported loss of
community to using ethnographic and survey techniques to discover the persistence
of neighborhood communities. In the 1970s, analysts began realizing
that communities were flourishing outside of neighborhoods. The proliferation
of cheap and efficient transportation and communication networks in
the developed world has increased the velocity of transactions and fostered
interactional density. This allows contact to be maintained with greater ease
and over longer distances. Since the 1970s, many studies have documented a
change from local to long-distance community, with little interaction across
the intervening territory between places. Few neighbors are known, and most
friends and relatives live elsewhere (Fischer, 1982;Wellman, 1997; 1999a, b;
Wellman & Leighton, 1979).
In the Internet age, communities and their networks have spread through
the information commons. As computer-mediated-communication spread
through academic communities, new uses for it were imagined.With learning
as one of the primary missions of academic institutions, it is not surprising
that virtual learning environments were developed. The context of the development
of virtual learning environments have been influenced by a myriad
of scholarly communities and networks and the virtualized relationships they
provide. Our understanding of those networks can be increased through researching
networked scholarship.
J. Weiss et al. (eds.), The International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments, 1429–1447.
2006 Springer. Printed in the Netherlands.