Emergent Networks in Computer-Supported Groups

Emergent Networks in Computer-Supported Groups

Michael Stefanone (State University of New York at Buffalo, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch008
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Abstract

This chapter focuses on whether computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools are actually working to increase the overall level of participation within learning groups, in terms of increasing diversity of relationships within the group. First, this chapter provides a broad overview of social network analysis, and a synopsis of key concepts related to the network approach. In general terms, the literature review integrates network analysis vocabulary and literature on communities of practice. Then, an accessible example of how to apply network analysis to an investigation of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) groups over time is provided. This is relevant given the increasing popularity of social network analysis, as well as people’s growing dependence on CMC tools to learn, work and play. The results contribute to the ongoing discussion regarding the role technology is having on relationships in computer-mediated contexts, and demonstrate the application of social network techniques to the study of group processes over time.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emergent Networks: Also known as informal networks, these are communication structures which develop and evolve independent of formal networks.

Ego Network: An abstraction of the social network structure surrounding an individual person.

Strong Tie: Alters in a social network characterized by frequent, reciprocal communication, positive affect, and relationship longevity.

Ego Network: An abstraction of the social network structure surrounding an individual person.

Social Network Analysis: The systematic study of patterns of relationships between people.

Weak Tie: Alters in a social network characterized by infrequent communication with low reciprocity, and a lack of emotional closeness.

Emergent Networks: Also known as informal networks, these are communication structures which develop and evolve independent of formal networks.

Formal Networks: Characterized by prescribed communication structures, exemplified by an organizational chart.

Strong Tie: Alters in a social network characterized by frequent, reciprocal communication, positive affect, and relationship longevity.

Homophily: The degree of similarity among a group’s members, typically based on variables like gender, education, or age.

Weak Tie: Alters in a social network characterized by infrequent communication with low reciprocity, and a lack of emotional closeness.

Homophily: The degree of similarity among a group’s members, typically based on variables like gender, education, or age.

Social Network Analysis: The systematic study of patterns of relationships between people.

Formal Networks: Characterized by prescribed communication structures, exemplified by an organizational chart.

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