Social Software in Education

Social software can be (and has been) defined on many different levels. Particularly relevant is Ulises Mejias’s overview (in A Nomad’s Guide to Learning & Social Software) where he categorises social software as:

• multiplayer gaming environments: Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), Massively-Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), etc.
• discourse facilitation systems: synchronous: instant messaging (IM), chat; or asynchronous: e-mail, bulletin boards, discussion boards, moderated commenting systems (e.g. Slashdot, Plastic, K5)
• content management systems: blogs, wikis, document management (e.g. Plone), web annotation utilities
• product development systems: especially for Open Source software, e.g. Sourceforge
• peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing systems: e.g. Napster, Gnutella, BitTorrent
• selling/purchasing management systems: e.g. eBay
• learning management systems (LMSs): e.g. Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle
• relationship management systems: e.g. Friendster, Orkut
• syndication systems: list-servs, RSS aggregators
• distributed classification systems: e.g. Flickr,

Also of interest will be the wikipedia definition and the archives of Many2Many.

The social software we’re most familiar with in teaching and learning is email, discussion boards and Learning Management Systems. Many teachers will also be aware of or have used chat or synchronous technologies together with listservs. Learners (especially undergraduate), however are much more familiar with IM, MUDs, blogs, P2p etc. (Pew I & II 2005).

Indeed, the application and use of these technologies is becoming a more and more significant aspect of the use of the web and this has significant implications for our use of technologies in teaching and learning online. A significant amount of literature is beginning to be produced comparing ‘web 1.0’ to ‘web 2.0’ technologies (i.e. discussion boards to blogs) and there is much to suggest in this that engagement with these technologies in teaching and learning online is fundamental to the successful use of the medium.

In particular there have been a number of publications in the area of blogs, wikis, Instant Messaging and mLearning.

Publications on the uses of blogs in education:

Blogging to Learn, The Knowledge Tree
– Anne Bartlett-Bragg (2003)

Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments – James Farmer (2004)

A Learning Blogosphere The Community Engine
– Bud Gibson (2004)

When Blogging Goes Bad: A Cautionary Tale About Blogs, Email Lists, Discussion, and Interaction – Stephen Krause (2004)

Blogs @ Anywhere: High fidelity online communication – James Farmer & Anne Bartlett-Bragg (2005)

Blogs versus discussion forums in postgraduate online continuing medical education – Lisa Wise 2005

Papers of Blogtalk Downunder (2005)

Publications on the uses of wikis in education:

Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not -Brian Lamb (2004)

A Catalog of CoWeb Uses – Various (2002)

Teaching and learning online with wikis -Naomi Auger

Publications on Mobile Learning:

Going Nomadic: Mobile Learning in Higher Education – Bryan Alexander (2004)

Building the momentum for mLearning via the ECU Advantage Project
– Romana Pospisil (2005)

Publications on Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging – Collaborative Tool or Educator’s nightmare! – Robert Farmer (2002)

Instant Messaging: IM Online! RU? – Robert Farmer 2005