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  1. 1. Social software: Supporting peer learning Robert Fitzgerald University of Canberra ACODE 48 - 'Emerging Technologies: implications for policy and practice’, 18 November 2008 1
  2. 2. The experience of university •  Complexities of balancing study, work and play •  Time poor, reduced presence •  Difficulties engaging with university experience (Krause, Hartley, James & McInnis, 2005) •  Loss of sociability and a related loss of social production 2 Source: Flickr image by phxpma
  3. 3. Big ideas 3
  4. 4. Big ideas 4
  5. 5. Social Software 5 Source:
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  7. 7. Social Software Survey (n = 2717) 7
  8. 8. Social Software Survey (n = 2717) 8
  9. 9. Social Software Survey (n = 2717) 9
  10. 10. Social Software Survey (n = 2717) 10
  11. 11. Social Software Survey (n = 2717) 11
  12. 12. Pilot Projects •  Applied Ecology unit used blogs for lab reports (UC) •  Blogs, wikis, social bookmarking and social media (QUT) •  Whole of course approach using a University-wide blogging platform (RMIT University) •  MyToons as a digital learning community for new media (UC) Source: Flickr image by 12 1 eleda
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  15. 15. 15 Network of interrelated bookmark tags, centred around the 'KCB201' tag
  16. 16. Mytoons “It's the place where people who really love animation - from seasoned industry pros to rabid animation fans - can upload and share their creations and animated favorites with the entire world for free” •  ttp:// h •  ttp:// h 16
  17. 17. pe er le 0 1 2 3 4 5 ar ni ng le fe ar ed ni ng b ac ex k 0 - Not at all le p er ar ni ie ng nc e ou tc om es m ot so iv ci at al io in n 3 - Moderate te ra on c tio lin n e w cu or ltu ki re ng s gr in ou gr p ou ps as se 5 - Great extent ss m en t To what extent has your use of Mytoons improved… 17
  18. 18. Findings •  There’s no [LMS] that does this, it’s five to ten years away (Stephen Barrass) •  The ongoing success of an online community is determined by usability and sociability (De Souza & Preece, 2004) •  Nothing’s private on the internet. Even set to private, it’s not private. Like a few weeks ago My Space was attacked and every profile that was set to private with photos on it, all the photos got leaked on to a BitTorrent site (Female student). 18
  19. 19. Students •  I find it’s a bit safer to learn from your peers because then you don’t have to deal with the embarrassment of sticking your hand up and saying, “Oh, I don’t know that” or you could just ask the person next to you. (Female student) •  Also when you’re speaking to your peers you have a lot of different opinions, because you’ve got a big group of people’s, generally not going to be the way everyone’s going to agree with the same thing. So you sort of get an all-round kind of deal, which it’s good. (Female student) 19
  20. 20. Findings •  University students need to learn new network and software literacies to become digital citizens, and learn how to better collaborate with each other and the wider community •  Social software could provide students with opportunities to engage with their peers in a discourse that explores, interrogates and provides a supplementary social ground for their in-class learning 20
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  22. 22. A big idea: Opening up education •  “Opening Up Education argues that we must develop not only the technical capability but also the intellectual capacity for transforming tacit pedagogical knowledge into commonly usable and visible knowledge: by providing incentives for faculty to use (and contribute to) open education goods, and by looking beyond institutional boundaries to connect a variety of settings and open source entrepreneurs.” •  Social Software: Learning about and learning to be 22
  23. 23. More information Dr Robert Fitzgerald, Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Education University of Canberra 23