Supporting the independent online learner — while supporting ourselves

Save the Dates!

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 16, 17, 18 and 19, 2013

We wish to convene a Community Inquiry in CPsquare on

Supporting the Independent Online Learner while Supporting Ourselves


Last fall, Brenda Kaulback, Doris Reeves-Lipscomb, and Lisa Levinson opened a Community Inquiry in CPsquare on The Learning Facilitator’s Role: How is it Changing? The conversation that ensued was provocative and thoughtful and raised additional questions about the changing nature of online learning and our role both as learners and as facilitators. Outcomes included a summary report, the results of a survey of participants, and a treasure chest of resources related to the topic. This inquiry is designed to take up that topic and address it from the point of view of the learner, and, at the same time, to advance our understanding of our place in the ever-changing learning process.


The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) nature of online learning has accelerated over the past few years, putting the online learner in control of his or her own online engagement and knowledge creation. Each online learner can create “learning bubbles” that enlist a few or many others in exploring, seeking, and creating knowledge. These learning bubbles are ephemeral – connections may or may not form into more substantial bubbles – communities of practice, perhaps, and connections that have been in existence fade away.  They may exist in the context of organizations or may float on their own. With the new learning designs’ emphasis on self-directed learning, facilitators and learners alike often grapple with navigating the new terrain.

In what ways can we as learning professionals in various settings support the new learner? Through creating spaces for learning bubbles to occur and grow? In helping learners to create their own plans and learning bubbles? Or by being a learning concierge, as Jane Hart has creatively described the role?  In what other ways do we see a role for ourselves?

How does our work in supporting communities translate into this new world of MOOCs (massive, open, online courses) and DOCCs (distributed, open, collaborative, courses)? And, how do we create a business model based on what we envision? Jane Hart has imagined new support roles and we have used her chart on “Emerging New Roles for Learning and Evaluation Professionals” as a starting point.

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We invite you* to join us in this asynchronous inquiry into supporting the independent online learner while supporting ourselves. Discussion will begin at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 16 and conclude at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, October 19.


We three – Brenda Kaulback, Lisa Levinson, and Doris Reeves-Lipscomb – have backgrounds in social services, public policy, and higher education and six years of working together designing, supporting, and evaluating online dialogues and learning communities. Because we appreciate each other’s practice and wish to continue learning from each other, the three of us meet regularly in our own Community of Practice where we share struggles and insights from our independent consultancies.

Everyone is invited.  To obtain a user-name and password, email When you email John, please copy the person who invited you, if you know who that is. When the event begins, you can log in with your user-name and password on  Here are instructions to log in and join the conversation. We are looking forward to your participation!


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