Document Details

Title Social Software for Learning: What is it, why use it?
Author Scott Leslie, Bruce Landon - BCcampus, Douglas College (Canada)


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.

Date 01/01/2008
Region(s) North America
Countries Canada
Theme(s) Technology
Topic(s) Open Source, Open Content Initiatives, Distance Education, E-learning Delivery

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