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Motivating learner engagement in onlineenvironments: the relevance of socialexchange theoryHazel HallSchool of Computing
Aptitude and willingness to share information   Crucial to learning   In all environments levels of sharing impact, for ...
Social exchange theory as a suitable          theoretical framework? Corporate environment 2001 – discussed elsewhere   ...
Exchange theory Economic resources are bought and sold Deals are subject to contractual obligations Resources exchanged...
Exchange structures Direct/restricted     Expectation of reciprocation between 2 parties Generalised     Trading acros...
Social exchange theory Shares characteristics with exchange theory    Trading of goods by individuals and groups of peop...
Social exchange theory & social sciences Anthropology    Practices of gift-giving Behavioural psychology    Learning p...
SET and information systems research Studies that demonstrate relevance of concepts of social  exchange, but without dire...
SET and information science research Scholarly communication     Social process depending on relationships built through...
Non-corporate environment 2007    49 student members of a third year undergraduate module    Blogging environment as a f...
Primary data sets Main blog entries (all students)     Reflections on information sharing in this environment     State...
Influences on information exchange Existing relationships (35 students 595 pairs) Desire to reciprocate Rewards: soft ...
Influences on information exchange Existing relationships (35 students 595 pairs)                               Which do...
Relationships and reciprocation                          Friends Acquaintances StrangersNone                             4...
Relationships and comment contributionsThe only comments I Ihave The only comments havereceived are from people that I I r...
Relationships and reciprocation                           Friends Acquaintances StrangersNone                             ...
Proximity – friendship – information exchange                    Friendship        Proximity          Socially motivated  ...
Other motivations: reciprocation per se                                    [I am] a bit disappointed with                 ...
Other motivations: reputation, fame, status                                    We were all aware that everyone was meant  ...
Other motivations: hard reward                                              I Idefinitely don’t think I Iwould            ...
Local inhibitors of information sharing Technical infrastructure     Late arrival student difficulties     Individual s...
Local inhibitors of information sharing Technical infrastructure     Late arrival student difficulties     Individual s...
Hard reward versus social incentives Soft rewards                          Reciprocation                Friendship    Prox...
Conclusions and implications Reward appears to be important Importance of local context in explaining information sharin...
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Motivating learner engagement in online environments: the relevance of social exchange theory

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Hazel Hall's invited paper presented at JISC CETIS Conference, Aston University, Birmingham, 21 November 2007. The work discussed in this paper was later developed into two refereed conference papers available at http://drhazelhall.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/2008_hall_widen_wulff_use_oulu1.pdf and http://www.slideshare.net/HazelHall/shared-relationships-spaces-and-online-information-behaviours-a-social-exchange-and-capital-perspective, and then a journal article accessible from http://hazelhall.org/?attachment_id=119.

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Motivating learner engagement in online environments: the relevance of social exchange theory

  1. 1. Motivating learner engagement in onlineenvironments: the relevance of socialexchange theoryHazel HallSchool of Computing
  2. 2. Aptitude and willingness to share information  Crucial to learning  In all environments levels of sharing impact, for example  Knowledge transfer  Knowledge (or information in may cases) storage  Further sharing  New knowledge creation In educational environment - learning In business environment - product/services development
  3. 3. Social exchange theory as a suitable theoretical framework? Corporate environment 2001 – discussed elsewhere  Large, distributed, information-intensive multinational organisation  More evidence of exchange per se than social exchange Non-corporate environment 2007 – discussed here  University  Stronger evidence of applicability of social exchange
  4. 4. Exchange theory Economic resources are bought and sold Deals are subject to contractual obligations Resources exchanged for currency Purchaser choices made from a range of options normally according to which offers the best value for the lowest cost
  5. 5. Exchange structures Direct/restricted  Expectation of reciprocation between 2 parties Generalised  Trading across group members  Paths of reciprocation difficult to define Productive  Individuals engage in exchange for the purposes of achieving a joint output
  6. 6. Social exchange theory Shares characteristics with exchange theory  Trading of goods by individuals and groups of people in range of exchange structures (direct/restricted, generalised, productive)PLUS Actors share social bonds Actors maintain high levels of trust Actors known to one another through long-term, dependent relationships Resources exchanged may be more highly valued than market cost Mutual obligation of trading partners is often ill-defined
  7. 7. Social exchange theory & social sciences Anthropology  Practices of gift-giving Behavioural psychology  Learning process Sociology  Power relationships
  8. 8. SET and information systems research Studies that demonstrate relevance of concepts of social exchange, but without direct acknowledgement  Collaborative software development  Decision-support systems in healthcare environments Studies that use SET with limited discussion of information and knowledge sharing  Knowledge/information exchange and innovation processes  Knowledge/information exchange and success of outsourcing projects Studies that make explicit reference to SET  Open source communities  Success/failure of strategic alliances between firms
  9. 9. SET and information science research Scholarly communication  Social process depending on relationships built through research communities and invisible colleges Processes of scholarship  Productive exchange Citation analysis  Social connectivity of researchers and the importance of levels of trust Acknowledgements  Form of gift-giving
  10. 10. Non-corporate environment 2007  49 student members of a third year undergraduate module  Blogging environment as a focus for information/knowledge sharing activity through comments on main blog entries  Minimal intervention on part of tutors  Requirement to contribute 2 comments per week, i.e. dependent relationship for marks (plus peer support)Expectation that social exchange theory may be applicable in this environment?
  11. 11. Primary data sets Main blog entries (all students)  Reflections on information sharing in this environment  Stated motivations for participation Comments on main blog entries (all students)  Actual exchanges  Reciprocation where evident  Patterns of direct exchange (Limited) interview data (3) Survey of student ties (35 respondents)  Friends, acquaintances, strangers (problems of designation) Student “proximity” data (all students)  Programme, tutorial group, course work team (only official data)
  12. 12. Influences on information exchange Existing relationships (35 students 595 pairs) Desire to reciprocate Rewards: soft and hard Habit of exchange engendered in the developing online environment
  13. 13. Influences on information exchange Existing relationships (35 students 595 pairs) Which dominate? Which dominate? Desire to reciprocate Could social exchange Could social exchange theory explain theory explain information sharing in information sharing in Rewards: soft and hard this case? this case? Habit of exchange engendered in the developing online environment
  14. 14. Relationships and reciprocation Friends Acquaintances StrangersNone 48 94 96Little - no pattern 27 6 4Some - pattern 2 0 0Much - strong pattern 23 0 0Total 100 100 100 Figures represent the percentage of student pairs in samples of “agreed” levels of friendship: F=44 (all), A=17 (all), S=45 (sample). Reciprocation = A comments on B’s blog and B comments on A’s blog at any point during the delivery of the module.
  15. 15. Relationships and comment contributionsThe only comments I Ihave The only comments havereceived are from people that I I received are from people that I Ihave tried to comment on as have tried to comment on asknow and I Ithink ititis the same know and think is the same many blogs as possible. many blogs as possible.for other students. I Ido the for other students. do the However, ititis so much easier to However, is so much easier tosame as well. I Ionly send same as well. only send comment on my friends’ blogs comment on my friends’ blogscomments to people I Iknow. comments to people know. since I Iunderstand their thinking since understand their thinking better. better. In the first week I Iposted In the first week posted comments only to on comments only to on French students’ blogs (my French students’ blogs (my friends) to get comments friends) to get comments from them on my own blog. from them on my own blog.
  16. 16. Relationships and reciprocation Friends Acquaintances StrangersNone 48 94 96Little - no pattern 27 6 4Some - pattern 2 0 0Much - strong pattern 23 0 0Total 100 100 100Students established as friends were more likely to reciprocate thanthose who were not.Analysis of “proximity” data showed that the friendships that exhibitedthe highest level of reciprocation activity were between students on thesame degree and in the same tutorial group (and, in some cases, thesame course work team).
  17. 17. Proximity – friendship – information exchange Friendship Proximity Socially motivated exchange
  18. 18. Other motivations: reciprocation per se [I am] a bit disappointed with [I am] a bit disappointed with the turn-out of comments on my the turn-out of comments on myOne thing I Ido feel is that when One thing do feel is that when blog site as I Itried to harass blog site as tried to harasssomeone comments on my someone comments on my people to post comments but I I people to post comments butblog I Ifeel obliged… to blog feel obliged… to guess ititdidn’t work... If I Iposted guess didn’t work... If postedcomment [on theirs]. comment [on theirs]. more on other people’s blogs, more on other people’s blogs, perhaps I Iwould have gotten a perhaps would have gotten a few more comments. few more comments. A gift economy? A gift economy?
  19. 19. Other motivations: reputation, fame, status We were all aware that everyone was meant We were all aware that everyone was meant to comment on another two blog entries. to comment on another two blog entries. Therefore you didn’t want to be seen as the Therefore you didn’t want to be seen as theI Iwas more likely to comment was more likely to comment one who had been left out, or less popular… one who had been left out, or less popular…on blogs which I Ifound on blogs which found receiving a comment almost acted as a receiving a comment almost acted as aparticularly interesting, particularly interesting, stamp of approval. It was rewarding to know stamp of approval. It was rewarding to knowreflective and thought- reflective and thought- that the blog had actually been read by that the blog had actually been read byprovoking… which were a little provoking… which were a little someone [and] the time and effort to write someone [and] the time and effort to writelengthier, and ititwas clear that lengthier, and was clear that the blog entries had been worthwhile. the blog entries had been worthwhile.the person had put some time the person had put some timeinto thinking about their into thinking about theirresponses. responses.
  20. 20. Other motivations: hard reward I Idefinitely don’t think I Iwould definitely don’t think would I Idid try to get a good mark did try to get a good mark have created blogs and posted with my blog, but I Ialso tried have created blogs and posted with my blog, but also tried comments had ititnot been part comments had not been part to make a blog which was to make a blog which was of the course work different. of the course work different. specification. specification.3 levels of participation1. Conscious of mark, yet still making an effort: information exchange worth more than the mark alone.2. Reluctant participation, with eye on mark3. Minimal effort
  21. 21. Local inhibitors of information sharing Technical infrastructure  Late arrival student difficulties  Individual system set-up Deadlines for uploading of main blog entries  Definition of “end of the week”
  22. 22. Local inhibitors of information sharing Technical infrastructure  Late arrival student difficulties  Individual system set-up Deadlines for uploading of main blog entries  Definition of “end of the week” Both practical problems Both practical problems with the module and with the module and issues that impact the issues that impact the research outcomes. research outcomes.
  23. 23. Hard reward versus social incentives Soft rewards Reciprocation Friendship Proximity Socially motivated exchange Hard rewards
  24. 24. Conclusions and implications Reward appears to be important Importance of local context in explaining information sharing in online environments Care required in setting up such environments, e.g. promotion of inclusion in educational settings, handling markers of “fame” Organisational complexities make it difficult to isolate factors of influence in this kind of study Incomplete data a particular problem, e.g. strength of pre- existing social ties, “proximity” data in student study Scope for further research

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