Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning – Paper Summary

The following is a summary of Giedre Kligyte’s (2009) paper ‘Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning’ .  A copy of this paper  can be obtained using the following link.


This poster proposes an approach, which uses threshold concepts as a lens through which academic developers can examine their practice in order to explain why it has been so difficult to inspire academics to adopt technologies in their teaching. Networked learning is described as a “portal” that leads to a new ontological destination and, if fully understood and embraced, transforms the way learning is understood, teaching is practiced and, in fact, how a life is lived.


  • Over the last several year, the use of network technologies has exploded, ‘changing the way we create, analyse and share knowledge (Harley 2008)
  • ‘Connectivism and networked learning’ have ’emerged as new learning paradigms.
  • Students how have access to limitless sources of information and this, combined with there ability to build relationships with each other, results in the construction of knowledge through collaboration.
  • ‘Information , media and network literacies are becoming vital skills for academics.’
  • ‘Academic development approach’ – working to assist academics is making lasting changes to their teaching practice using ‘communities of practice’

 case study

  • FULT program (Foundations of University Learning and Teaching) encourages academics to challenge ‘their assumptions about learning and teaching.’
  • The program examples key elements such as; ‘constructive alignment, reflective practice, learner-centred teaching and networked learning.’
  • In examining their own practice and beliefs about teaching, academics are also encouraged to evaluate themselves as a learning and participate in reflective practices which can be ;quite challenging and confronting’.

threshold concept framework

  • ‘Meyer and Land (2003) define threshold concepts as ‘akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something.’
Features of threshold concepts [such as networked learning]:
  • Troublesomeappears to be alien incoherent or counter-intuitive.‘  It ‘challenges the traditional understanding of how knowledge is generated.’ [similar the term “disruptive’ used by Bonzo et al, (2010)]
  • Discursiveincorporates an enhances and extended use of language’.  It ‘introduces a new language and reveals the underlying principles of operating in a world where information is distributed over a multitude of modes and sources.’
  • Liminality‘involves messy journeys back, fore and across conceptual terrain‘ (Cousins 2006).  ‘The ultimate destination in exploring networked learning is most often not fully understood at the starting point of the journey.’ ‘Learners need to find their own unique pathways…There’s no simple and straightforward way to mastery’
  • Integrative – reveals connections among different aspects that previously did not seem to be related.‘  ‘Network technologies transform the way of living and working, often permeating non-professional spheres of life.’
  • Irreversibleis transformative and changes the way in which the discipline is viewed.’  ‘Networked learning is impossible to “unlearn”.’

Acknowledgement that this form of change in teaching practices will not happen overnight but with the right time, support and opportunities long-term change can be achieved.


Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Same places, different spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009.


One response to “Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning – Paper Summary

  1. Pingback: Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning | iThink, iTeach, iTeens

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