This special issue is dedicated to new ways of self-organized learning and its technological support. More and more
research in the field of technology-enhanced learning focuses not solely on learners within institutional settings but
the topic of “crossing boundaries and contexts” has become something like a hidden agenda. This agenda is
connected to the phenomenon that for long years research was focusing on topics like content production and
delivery or platform discussions. But with the rise and success of social software the situation has changed. Instead
of providing learners with completely pre-defined learning environments a relatively new branch of research and
technology-development in the field is focusing on the question how individuals can be supported to plan their
learning process on their own and to conduct it within networks of learners with similar competence development
goals. While we do not see self-organized learning as the panacea to solve all educational problems we think that from the perspective of a lifelong competence development need technology-supported and self-organized learning will become a very important factor besides formally organized learning offerings. In the core of this new development we see the empowerment of learners which is enabled by the use of new and advanced learning technologies or new appropriations of old technologies.
Several perspectives on this topic are presented in this special issue. Examples of new technology developments are
presented which have been designed and evaluated with the target to enable new possibilities for self-organized
learning. Other contributions focus more on the aspect of self-organizing agents as a part of supporting services for
lifelong learners. Other contributions study more general questions like the relationship between several motivational aspects of self-organized learning or the question of gender differences in self-organized learning. Several contributions focus on the design and role of the electronic portfolio for self-organized learning, other studies evaluate the implementation of technologies to support self-organized learners in specific contexts. In the next part we will introduce the contributions to the special issue more into depth.