Toward the Digital Wilds
: Experiments in Social Learning with 'Fiery Spirits Community of Practice'

  • Nick Wilding

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The thesis presents and inquires into a first person research story about thedevelopment of a ‘Community of Practice’ for asset-based rural developmentpractitioners from across the UK and Republic of Ireland. It includes an account ofhow geographically remote members of the CoP were supported to come togetherover eighteen months to co-produce an online handbook called ‘ExploringCommunity Resilience’ (included as Appendix 1).Findings include:- Social networking and social media technologies can be powerful enablersof third and second person inquiry;- A compass tool (included here) can help hosts and curators make gooddesign and facilitation choices as they host the emergence of complex, largescale social learning architectures (which this thesis calls ‘Digital Forests’);- Action researchers can benefit from developing skills as digital curators,producers of social media, and hosts of transformative learning processes;- Future generations of social media are likely to challenge the assumptions,methods and findings of this thesis. As we navigate our way into this fastchanging future, it will be helpful to inquire into their impacts of newgenerations of digital technologies on our personal and collectivepsychological, cultural and social wellbeing.
Date of Award31 Jul 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGeoffrey Mead (Supervisor)


  • action research
  • community resilience
  • social learning
  • social media
  • community of practicehuman ecology
  • collaborative enquiry

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