Knowledge Media Tools to Foster Social Learning

Knowledge Media Tools to Foster Social Learning

Alexandra Okada (The Open University, UK), Simon Buckingham Shum (The Open University, UK), Michelle Bachler (The Open University, UK), Eleftheria Tomadaki (The Open University, UK), Peter Scott (The Open University, UK), Alex Little (The Open University, UK) and Marc Eisenstadt (The Open University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch024
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The aim of this chapter is to overview the ways in which knowledge media technologies create opportunities for social learning. The Open Content movement has been growing rapidly, opening up new opportunities for widening participation. One of the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives is the OpenLearn project, launched by the Open University, which integrates three knowledge media technologies: Compendium, FM and MSG. In this chapter, the authors analyse some examples, which show how these tools can be used to foster open sensemaking communities by mapping knowledge, location and virtual interactions. At the end, they present some questions and future horizons related to this research.
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Due to the widespread use of new technologies, people have greater access to information, interaction at distance and knowledge reconstruction than ever before. Open learning materials, online libraries, electronic journals and collective repositories are part of a larger movement to create a public online space providing open high-quality content in different formats such as hypertext, image, sound and video. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement has also been opening up new opportunities for widening participation (Willinsky, 2006; Dholakia, King & Baraniuk, 2006; Downes, 2006; O’Mahony & Ferraro, 2003; Open Source Initiative, 2007).

The Open University UK´s OpenLearn Project, for instance, is a large scale project that makes a selection of higher education learning resources freely available on the internet. OpenLearn, which is supported by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was launched in October 2006 and in eighteen months released over 5,400 learning hours of the OU’s distance learning resources for free access and modification by learners and educators under the Creative Commons license (OpenLearn, 2006). OpenLearn also offers three knowledge media tools: Compendium (knowledge mapping software), MSG (instant messaging application with geolocation maps) and FM (Web-based videoconferencing application).

This chapter introduces these three OpenLearn technologies and presents examples about the use and integration of these tools to promote social learning. During its first year and a half there are 50,000 registered users in OpenLearn, over 1,000,000 unique visitors to the site, over 1,000 video meetings booked, 1,377 Compendium Knowledge Map downloads and 17,000 MSG users.

Our current work is to investigate how these tools can be applied to foster open sensemaking communities (Buckingham Shum, 2005a) around the OERs, that is, the interpretative work that must take place around any resource for learning to take place. How can these technologies be used to support this critical activity in an OER context when learners must find and engage with peers themselves, if they do not wish to study alone?

“Open sensemaking communities” refer to open and self-sustaining communities that construct knowledge together from an array of environmental inputs (Buckingham Shum, 2005a; Weick, 1995). Thousands of open communities can be found on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Flickr, Yahoo groups, Google Groups, Moodle etc. However, there are some challenging issues for an “open community” (Reagle, 2004) to turn into an “open sensemaking community”(Buckigham Shum, 2005a). Participants must literally reflect upon information (Brooks & Scott, 2006) and “make” sense together by giving shape or modelling diverse ideas through significant representations (Buckingham Shum and Okada, 2008). They need transform their abstract thoughts about what is being learned into their personal framework - “knowledge objects” (Entwistle, 1995) and into “collective representations of knowledge” (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). The term knowledge object is used “to describe the essence of these quasi-sensory experiences of aspects of understanding”, through structures of thinking paths or summaries of integrated body of knowledge produced by a student (Entwistle, 1995:50). However, the “making” of a “shared artefact” to express the emerging, collective view of the problem/solution is an important distinction. Sensemaking is a “mutually negotiated understanding” (Weick, 1995:4). It means interpreting and representing plausible narratives about the world collectively. Through sensemaking, externalising one’s understanding clarifies one’s own grasp of the situation, as well as communicates it to others — literally, “the making of sense” (Weick, 1995: 4). An example of open sensemaking community is a community of open source software’s developers. They learn with each other by representing and sharing understanding about the content, programming code, and also the process. They construct their set of principles and practices by themselves which facilitate access and quality to the design and production of their products and knowledge.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Learning: Refers to the acquisition of social competence that happens primarily in a social group, virtual learning environments or online communities. Social learning depends on group dynamics, people with similar interests and disposition for studying together.

Open Educational Resources: Educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under creative commons licenses, which allows users re-mix, improve and redistribute on the Web.

Knowledge Media Technologies: Means tools to support the processes of generating, interpreting and sharing knowledge using several different media, as well as understanding how the use of different media shape these processes.

Open Learning: A learning method?for the knowledge acquisition based on open educational resources, free technologies and online communities. Open learning aims to allow participants self-determined, independent and interest-guided learning. It has been also offering opportunities for collaborative study and social learning.

Knowledge Mapping: A technique for organising knowledge, which aims to facilitate the creation and communication of knowledge through graphical representations. Beyond the mere transfer of facts, knowledge mapping aims to further create or transfer insights, experiences, attitudes, values, interpretations, perspectives, understanding, and predictions by using various complementary visualisations.

Social Presence or Co-Presence: Terms used in virtual learning, which refer to the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the online community by presenting themselves as ‘real people’ through the media of communication: picture, profile and via the “sense” of being with others.

Peer-to-Peer Networks: Typically used for connecting people via largely ad hoc connections. Such networks are useful for many purposes, such as social and open learning, sharing content files containing audio, video, data or anything in digital format and realtime data.

Open Sensemaking Communities: Refer to open and self-sustaining communities that construct knowledge together by interpreting, reconstruct their understanding together and literally “making of sense” from an array of environmental inputs.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Jennifer Preece
Stylianos Hatzipanagos, Steven Warburton
Chapter 1
Jon Dron, Terry Anderson
Understanding the affordances, effectiveness and applicability of new media in multiple contexts is usually a slow and evolving process with many... Sample PDF
How the Crowd Can Teach
Chapter 2
Chris Abbott, William Alder
Although social networking has been enthusiastically embraced by large numbers of children and young people, their schools and colleges have been... Sample PDF
Social Networking and Schools: Early Responses and Implications for Practice
Chapter 3
Eleni Berki, Mikko Jäkälä
Information and communication technology gradually transform virtual communities to active meeting places for sharing information and for supporting... Sample PDF
Cyber-Identities and Social Life in Cyberspace
Chapter 4
Werner Beuschel
Weblogs are a popular form of Social Software, supporting personal Web authoring as well as innovative forms of social interaction via internet. The... Sample PDF
Weblogs in Higher Education
Chapter 5
Mark Bilandzic, Marcus Foth
Web services such as wikis, blogs, podcasting, file sharing and social networking are frequently referred to by the term Web 2.0. The innovation of... Sample PDF
Social Navigation and Local Folksonomies: Technical and Design Considerations for a Mobile Information System
Chapter 6
Rakesh Biswas, Carmel M. Martin, Joachim Sturmberg, Kamalika Mukherji, Edwin Wen Huo Lee, Shashikiran Umakanth
The chapter starts from the premise that illness and healthcare are predominantly social phenomena that shape the perspectives of key stakeholders... Sample PDF
Social Cognitive Ontology and User Driven Healthcare
Chapter 7
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Central to research in social psychology is the means in which communities form, attract new members, and develop over time. Research has found that... Sample PDF
Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities
Chapter 8
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Social and group interactions in online and virtual communities develop and evolve from expressions of human agency. The exploration of the... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Agency in Online Social Networks
Chapter 9
A. Malizia, A. De Angeli, S. Levialdi, I. Aedo Cuevas
The User Experience (UX) is a crucial factor for designing and enhancing the user satisfaction when interacting with a computational tool or with a... Sample PDF
Exploiting Collaborative Tagging Systems to Unveil the User-Experience of Web Contents: An Operative Proposal
Chapter 10
Utpal M. Dholakia, Richard Baraniuk
Open Education Programs provide a range of digitized educational resources freely to educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for... Sample PDF
The Roles of Social Networks and Communities in Open Education Programs
Chapter 11
Sebastian Fiedler, Kai Pata
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Distributed Learning Environments and Social Software: In Search for a Framework of Design
Chapter 12
Yoni Ryan, Robert Fitzgerald
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Exploring the Role of Social Software in Higher Education
Chapter 13
Kathryn Gow
This chapter focuses on the identification of a range of competencies that entry level workers, and thus graduating students, will need to acquire... Sample PDF
Identifying New Virtual Competencies for the Digital Age: Essential Tools for Entry Level Workers
Chapter 14
Jerald Hughes, Scott Robinson
This chapter examines interaction-oriented virtual religious communities online in the light of sociological theory of religious communities. The... Sample PDF
Social Structures of Online Religious Communities
Chapter 15
Helen Keegan, Bernard Lisewski
This chapter explores emergent behaviours in the use of social software across multiple online communities of practice where informal learning... Sample PDF
Living, Working, Teaching and Learning by Social Software
Chapter 16
Lucinda Kerawalla, Shailey Minocha, Gill Kirkup, Gráinne Conole
With a variety of asynchronous communication and collaboration tools and environments such as Wikis, blogs, and forums, it can be increasingly... Sample PDF
Supporting Student Blogging in Higher Education
Chapter 17
Lisa Kervin, Jessica Mantei, Anthony Herrington
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Blogs as a Social Networking Tool to Build Community
Chapter 18
Jennifer Ann Linder-VanBerschot
The objective of this chapter is to introduce a model that outlines the evolution of knowledge and sustainable innovation of community through the... Sample PDF
A Model for Knowledge and Innovation in Online Education
Chapter 19
Petros Lameras, Iraklis Paraskakis, Philipa Levy
This chapter focuses on discussing the use of social software from a social constructivist perspective. In particular, the chapter explains how... Sample PDF
Using Social Software for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Chapter 20
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The aim of this chapter is to investigate the potential role of social software inside business settings in integrating knowledge exploitation and... Sample PDF
The Potential of Enterprise Social Software in Integrating Exploitative and Explorative Knowledge Strategies
Chapter 21
M. C. Pettenati, M. E. Cigognini, E. M.C. Guerin, G. R. Mangione
In this chapter the authors identify the Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) pre-dispositions, skills and competences of the current effective... Sample PDF
Personal Knowledge Management Skills for Lifelong-Learners 2.0
Chapter 22
Sharon Markless, David Streatfield
This chapter questions whether the shift from the Web as a vehicle for storing and transmitting information to the new Web as a series of social... Sample PDF
Reconceptualising Information Literacy for the Web 2.0 Environment?
Chapter 23
Catherine McLoughlin, Mark J.W. Lee
Learning management systems (LMS’s) that cater for geographically dispersed learners have been widely available for a number of years, but many... Sample PDF
Pedagogical Responses to Social Software in Universities
Chapter 24
Alexandra Okada, Simon Buckingham Shum, Michelle Bachler, Eleftheria Tomadaki, Peter Scott, Alex Little, Marc Eisenstadt
The aim of this chapter is to overview the ways in which knowledge media technologies create opportunities for social learning. The Open Content... Sample PDF
Knowledge Media Tools to Foster Social Learning
Chapter 25
Luc Pauwels, Patricia Hellriegel
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A Critical Cultural Reading of "YouTube"
Chapter 26
Ismael Peña-López
The author of this chapter proposes the concept of the Personal Research Portal (PRP) – a mesh of social software applications to manage knowledge... Sample PDF
The Personal Research Portal
Chapter 27
Andrew Ravenscroft, Musbah Sagar, Enzian Baur, Peter Oriogun
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Ambient Pedagogies, Meaningful Learning and Social Software
Chapter 28
V. Sachdev, S. Nerur, J. T.C. Teng
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Interactivity Redefined for the Social Web
Chapter 29
Sue Thomas, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Perril, Kate Pullinger
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Transliteracy as a Unifying Perspective
Chapter 30
Martin Weller, James Dalziel
This chapter looks at some of the areas of tension between the new social networking, Web 2.0 communities and the values of higher education. It... Sample PDF
Bridging the Gap Between Web 2.0 and Higher Education
Chapter 31
Steve Wheeler
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Destructive Creativity on the Social Web: Learning through Wikis in Higher Education
Chapter 32
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Presence in Social Networks
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