Boundary Practices and the Use of Boundary Objects in Collaborative Networked Learning

  • Marianne RiisEmail author
  • Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld
Part of the Research in Networked Learning book series (RINL)


Building on a continued interest in boundaries and boundary practice in relation to ICT-based networked learning (Ryberg & Sinclair, 2016), this paper addresses the issue of knowledgeability and identification in design for boundary practice in networked learning. We analyse how two different case studies conducted at the Danish online master programme on ICT and learning (MIL) differ with regard to potential boundary practice and the use of boundary objects.

In study I, the design for learning was based on a 2D virtual learning environment (Dirckinck-Holmfeld, 2006), whereas study II was based on a 3D virtual world (Riis, Avatar-mediation and transformation of practice in a 3D virtual world. Meaning, identity, and learning. Ph.D. dissertation. Aalborg University Press, 2016). Our findings show similarities and differences in terms of boundary practices and the use of boundary objects. In particular, the 3D avatar seems to influence the participants’ practices, and the 3D virtual space affords a concrete materialised, albeit virtual, opportunity for reification.

We elaborate on similarities and differences and based on our findings we propose that boundaries in networked learning should be regarded not only as sociocultural differences, but also as socio-material differences and dependencies. The materiality of a 3D virtual environment and avatars provides new relational and performative opportunities that might raise new research questions in networked learning in general.


Networked learning Boundary practice Boundary object Culture Materiality 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Danish Evaluation InstituteCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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