Authentic learning activities closely approximate the interrelationships, differing perspectives in, as well as complexity and competing outcomes of, everyday life. In the online environment, collaborative studies can constitute authentic learning by offering opportunities for the personal construction of knowledge through dialogue and reflection. This paper outlines aspects of learning demonstrated by five crime prevention practitioners, mostly police, who undertook the online supported postgraduate subject ‘Partnerships in Crime Prevention’. Students were required to identify problems in their communities, and to work ‘in partnership’ with fellow students and the lecturer as they moved through an action research process in seeing how these problems might be addressed. Online communication was designed on face-to-face group process principles. Despite its small scale and methodological limitations, this study indicates that, through attention to group processes, an authentic learning environment (learner-centred, active and discursive) can build productive relationships amongst professionals engaging in further education in an online environment.
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