Individual and Social Learning


Image: By Antonello da Messina –, Public Domain,

In my 2014 paper for the DRHA 2014 Conference in Greenwich, I had argued on the importance of self directed learning and the personal responsibility of the individual toward his/her learning goals. I’ve always considered online learning as directly connected to a model of an emancipated learner in the likings of Joseph Jacoto’s students as presented in Jacques Ranciere’s “The Ignorant Schoolmaster”. Otherwise, how could someone get involved in a learning process unless he/she is determined to know more on a particular subject of interest?

On the other hand lays the social character of the educational milieu. In architecture schools group work is a prerequisite for most studios and students are required to work in groups of two or three in most design projects. This is a regular practice for arch students even for their final thesis projects. Working in groups and peer to peer exchange of views and insights is nowadays a constant prerequisite in online formats where participants are often encouraged to share their work with others but to also respond to user comments, critique the work of their peers and offer their advice. Sometimes, as in the Leuphana format, they are also requested to work in groups of fine or more even though miles apart.

In this context the learner assumes both the responsibility of his/her own progress but also an accountability for his/her overall social performance in this educational landscape -may that be in-class or online-. On one hand, the task is to search and discover -as a means of satisfying one’s own curiosity- and on the other, to share (and share respectfully) with others these individual threads of thought. Whatever the outcome of the process may be, course design needs to consider both of these aspects; treat the individual participator and also treat individuals as members of the learning society in which they claim their presence.

Read the full paper here


Rancière, J. (1991). The ignorant schoolmaster: Five lessons in intellectual emancipation. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Leuphana’s Digital School official site: (last access: 03/07/2014)
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