Using OB3 to facilitate networked learning with theoretical content

A decade ago, we claimed “existing online systems for fostering collaboration are limited in the sense of enabling a distributed community of practice to engage and exchange to learn together. We created [the OB3] app in which conversations happen around content, not separate from it. Online discussions in context are needed for facilitating [the] establish[ment of] connections among concepts as well as relevance” (Gomez & Tamblyn 2012). In 2022, Ara Midwifery published on how OB3 supports their network distributed model for meaningful connection with distance education students.

The bachelor of Midwifery at Ara Institute of Canterbury has been using OB3 since 2013 (Daellenbach, Davies, Kensington, & Tamblyn, 2014). A recent book chapter (Daellenbach et al., 2022) describes their networked distributed model for teaching and learning (see figure below). OB3 is used to network learners with other learners, with lecturers and experts, in activities around theoretical content. The approach has helped ensure students can access distance education from provincial and rural areas.

Figure sourced from Ara midwifery article. The caption says blended learning model of the bachelor of midwifery programme at Ara Institute of Canterbury. The figure has been modified to show/highlight ob3's contribution

Ara Midwifery reports on research outcomes showing students prefer OB3 not only for peer-to-peer activities but also for lecturer created content.

Image sourced from 2022 Ara Midwifery book chapter. The caption says Preference for type of resources/activities in ob3 ranked 5-1 (5 as first preference): Average ranking.

Key outcomes of student preferences when studying with OB3

  • First-year students ranked sharing their experiences equally with lecturer created content.
  • Second-year students ranked discussing midwifery scenarios and viewing videos only marginally behind the lecturer created content
  • Student open-ended question responses indicated that the online discussions in OB3 helped them feel more connected to the other students in class as they work through the online materials at home
  • The value students placed on sharing their experiences and information with each other (as shown in Fig. 18.2), suggests that students are engaged in networked learning and able to form and sustain communities of practice.
  • See Daellenbach et al. (2022, p. 342)

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