Social learning

Social learning

I was sent an interesting link from a colleague recently which is a store of apps created at the University of Wollongong, Australia. It seems a very good idea to me. When discussing it with colleagues I came upon an interesting disagreement (or “contested issue” as academics like to call it!). Most people I spoke to were very much in favour of being able to use social software with their students – especially students of education and/or technology. Perhaps not for direct teaching, but for support, social back-up, and certainly for teaching about the subject itself. It is accepted that it is not good practice to demand that students submit assessments through third-party software providers, but surely the best way of teaching about social networking in education is to allowed controlled use of social software in courses? There should be a system to allow students to sign up at the start of the course that they realise the conditions of use of Facebook, Twitter, and so on. It could even be accepted that students who hadstrong objections could opt out of using these tools (but that would be a bit like opting out of reading the core texts!) Surely, however, by the simple fact that a student is studying the subject (and may already be using these technologies in their personal life) it would seem reasonable that the way to learn best practice , and to guard against unwitting bad practice, is to study the media systematically. I think that objections to this are just another example of education lagging behind the technology practices of society as a whole (and it is interesting that the staff with the most vigorous objections to the use of social media are not tutors, but some ‘support’ staff). It would be interesting to learn about what other universities are doing in this area.


3 thoughts on “Social learning”

  1. In response to the education sector’s continuing lack of immersion and engagement with new technologies and social media, Gutierrez and Tyner (2012, p.32) state: “…it could be said that the education sector is an anachronism in its own time as it continues to prepare students for a society that no longer exists…A broader vision for the accommodation of new literacy skills will require significant restructuring in the education sector.” From all the research I am doing in this area at the moment it seems clear to me that even although at the institutional level there continues to be a resistance to the use of social media and Web 2.0 technologies, it is now an essential element of digital literacy. Digital literacy in turn is now perceived as an importance employability skill for the labour market. In a networked society I would suggest that an ever more important graduate key skill will be based around student’s experience and understanding of social media and Web 2.0 technologies. The whole education sector in my view needs to be much more adaptive and willing to embrace changing technologies so we can produce graduates for the networked society able to use and understand increasingly mobile technologies.

  2. Bula Frank,
    I have been following your blog posts with interest. I can share that here at USP, our social work programme have been using social media (facebook) for a couple of years now to connect new, continuing, graduates and key stakeholders in the social work arena in the South Pacific region and beyond to share information, networking purposes for social work practicum and future job prospects etc. and students are invited to join the group in the first year of studies. As part of the peer mentoring learning support for undergraduate students;one of our mentors have used a page to schedule slots, share information and most importantly send out motivational messages to their mentees in a semester of study. I also recognise that there are cases where students may not be able to use social media and what comes off on top of my head are students that are confined to correctional facilities.

  3. This is a huge struggle. Partly it is dominated by old-fashioned elements that still expect the teacher at the centre of things. But on a higher level, I believe what is stiffling the use of social technologies for learning is that the tools are all commercial, and scrupulously exploit teaching and learning for their (not-so-humanist) purposes, like collecting and selling data. Were there any popular social platforms with non-commercial non-profit background, there would be much less debate. Alas, the inclination of the edugeeks that drive the innovation is fully latched onto what companies come up with next and use it for education. With some initial success, I might add.

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