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Creating learning communities: three social software tools

Tinker, Amanda, Byrne, Gillian and Cattermole, Christine (2010) Creating learning communities: three social software tools. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 2. ISSN 1759667X

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Use of the web today, particularly amongst young people, is now more social and participative. Collectively known as Web 2.0, freely available tools have emerged that facilitate communication, user-generated content and social connectivity. Facebook and MySpace have become the most popular forms of this kind of online activity and networks are formed around all kind of interest and issues whether they are political, educational, professional or hobbies. In a recent survey of 500 students, 80% claimed that they regularly use social networking tools to communicate with peers (JISC, 2008). This pervasive use of Web 2.0 technology for everyday interaction has yet to see its potential fully recognised and integrated into Higher Education pedagogy. Despite 73% of students using such tools to ‘discuss coursework’ and 75% of these students recognising their value for enhancing learning, only 25% were encouraged to use such social software by academic staff (JISC, 2008). This raises the question as to whether Web 2.0 technology can promote social learning within educational contexts and how this might be realised in practice. In a bid to harness this creativity, energy and sociability, the Academic Skills Tutors (ASTs) at the University of Huddersfield have been exploring Web 2.0 technologies to investigate how such tools might enhance teaching and learning. This paper introduces practical examples of social software tools; how these are currently used to foster learning communities and promote academic development. Three distinct social software tools are discussed (, PBwiki - now PBworks - and Ning), illustrating current use of these with students and their initial evaluation

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Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Higher Education Social Software
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
Huddersfield Business School
Huddersfield Business School > Business Education Research Group
Related URLs:
References: Alexander, B. (2006) ‘Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?’, Educause Review 41(2) pp 32-44. Anderson, P. (2007) ‘What is web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and Implications for education’, JISC Technology and Standards Watch, February. ONLINE: [Accessed: 4 November 2008]. Berners-Lee, T. (1999) Weaving the web: the past, present and future of the World Wide Web by its inventor. London : Orion Business. Boulos, M.N.K. and Wheeler, S. (2007) ‘The emerging web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education’, Health Information and Libraries Journal 24(1) pp 2-23. Currant, B. (2009) ‘Support Me! Develop me! Enhancing the student experience and engaging with users before they arrive’, LearnHigher website launch. University of Leeds, Leesd 23 January. Currant, N., Currant, B., Whitfield, R. and Hartley, P. (2008) Defining ‘Generation Y’: towards a new typology of digital learners. ONLINE: %20Generation%20Y%20Bradford.pdf (Accessed: 4 November 2008). Dotsika, F. and Patrick, K. (2006) ‘Towards the new generation of web knowledge’, The Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems 36(4) pp 406-422. Hoare, S. (2007) 'Students tell universities: get out of MySpace!' The Guardian, 5 November. ONLINE: (Accessed: 28 January 2009). Ipsos MORI on behalf of JISC (2007) Great expectations of ICT: how higher education institutions are measuring up. ONLINE: (Accessed: 20 February 2009). JISC (2007) Secure personal institutional and inter-institutional repository. ONLINE: (Accessed: 26 July 2008). JISC (2008) Great expectations of ICT: how HE institutions are measuring up. Press release, 12 June. ONLINE: (Accessed: 28 January 2009). Mason, R. and Rennie, F. (2008) E-learning and social networking handbook: resources for higher education. Oxford: Routledge Ltd. Minocha, S. (2009) A study on the effective use of social software by further and higher education in the UK to support student learning and engagement (final report). UK: JISC. ONLINE: (Accessed: 2 December 2009). Prensky, M. (2001) ‘Digital Natives, digital immigrants’, On the Horizon, MCB University Press 9(5) pp 1-6. University of Bradford (2008) Develop Me! ONLINE: (Accessed: 18 February 2009).
Depositing User: Amanda Tinker
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 15:05
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 11:01


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