This symposium seeks to advance an understanding of learning from an ecological perspective. The abundance of digital technologies and rapid changes in knowledge domains generate new epistemic and learning practices, drawing on heterogeneous sets of resources, actors, and forms of knowledge. Consequently, learners must navigate complex and unstructured landscapes to gather resources and structure knowledge activities. In doing so, they create continuity and connections between various unbound spaces of learning, i.e., they create their own learning ecologies. Little is known about these processes and how they can be examined or supported. This symposium argues for the necessity of a paradigmatic shift towards an ‘ecological understanding’, which takes into account the enactment of the learning ‘act’, the knowledge forms, contexts, relationships, digital technologies and infrastructures that shape learning practices in unbound landscapes. The four contributions employ an ecological perspective on various aspects of learning and use empirical illustrations to build an argument leading towards a new educational research and learning design agenda. The contributions are complementary as they pinpoint practices students, teachers and institutions engage with and and challenges they are facing in this unbounded landscape.
The symposium was led by Crina Damşa, University of Oslo, Norway & Christoph Richter Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany. The discussant was Jim Slotta, University of Toronto. The contributers were: Lina Markauskaite, Natasha Arthars, Natalie Spence, Heidrun Allert, Zacharias Andreadakis, Christoph Richter, Crina Damşa and me (Teresa Cerratto Pargman).