Digital Learning Communities: Investigating the application of social software to support networked learning (CG6-36)

Robert Fitzgerald, Stephen Barrass, John Campbell, Sam Hinton, Yoni Ryan, Mitchell Whitelaw, Axel Bruns, Adrian Miles, Nathan McGuinness

    Research output: Book/ReportReports

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    Abstract

    Universities are in the business of preparing students for their professional, social and intellectual lives: as such they are also about producing the leaders and innovators for a rapidly changing technological world. It is not entirely clear how well universities are responding to these objectives particularly when it comes to embracing new technologies such as social software. University students face many challenges to their effective participation in and engagement with the university environment. Competing study, work and social demands (Krause et al, 2005) fragment their lives and reduce their time on campus, reducing their opportunities to engage with their peers in the discourse that explores, interrogates and provides a supplementary social ground for their in-class learning. Social interaction is fundamental to the pursuit of high quality thinking and learning outcomes (cf Vygotsky, 1978) and simple and robust information and communications technologies (ICT) give us new opportunities to promote social interaction, build social networks and enhance students’ university presence. The Digital Learning Communities (DLC) Project considered the potential of social software to support peer engagement and group learning in higher education. The project established a series of pilots that examined ways in which social software could provide students with opportunities to engage with their peers to supplement the more formal aspects of their education. It spoke with teaching and support staff about the use of social software to support learning, and to students about how they saw social software being used in their university lives. It established a wiki-based cookbook that provides ideas and suggestions for the use of social software, and conducted surveys of staff and students’ use of new social technologies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationSydney
    PublisherATC
    Number of pages60
    ISBN (Print)9781740882965
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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