Friday, 25 January 2008

Report on Social Software in Learning

Did you know that 5% of all website visits are now visits to social software sites? Actually I thought it would be higher.

If you institution has a subscription to the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education then take a look at Scott Leslie and Bruce Landon’s report: Social Software for Learning: What is it, why use it?

This January 2008 report looks at the opportunities and a threats of the Web 2.0 social software and how institutions can and should respond to applications developed outside the academic institutions.

“The recent, and undeniably massive, growth in adoption of various social software applications represents both an opportunity and a threat to institutions and educators: opportunity because the qualities which help these applications thrive align well with socio-constructivist and other contemporary theories of learning which have resonated strongly with online educators and learners and sparked massive interest and growth in adoption; threat in part because they are often developed and adopted by learners outside the bounds of their formal relationships with institutions, and in part because they depend on network characteristics that can be in tension with the more ‘closed’ environments and online approaches found within most institutions. In many ways, social software represents a key manifestation of borderless education in that it has typically been developed on the general Internet, not within academic enclaves nor for specifically educational purposes, and often thrives best when the full dynamics of the entire network (e.g. linkability, searchability, network effects) are in play.

Initially, this report compares some of the qualities that cause social software to flourish with contemporary ideas about what enables successful learning in a networked world. Following an examination of uses of specific social software applications to support learning, it subsequently discusses how these key characteristics create both challenges for adopting institutions and considerations for adopters and implementers of social software that can help them harness them to best advantage in creating more authentic engagement for lifelong learners.”

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