This chapter proposes that social software can enable informal learning environments through collective learning networks and the fundamental social interactions embedded in those learning processes. Situated in the adult learning organisational context, the challenge for educators is how to re-frame their pedagogical practices for the new technological developments and facilitate the design of online communication and information exchanges to empower the learners and create an enriched social learning landscape. The chapter presents a pedagogical framework, developed from practice and verified through doctoral research, which provides pathways through phases of development for facilitating informal learning processes and strategies that enable learners to overcome key issues that may inhibit the creation of informal learning environments. Examples from recent practice will be used to illustrate areas where educators need to be aware of both the inhibitors and their pedagogical strategies.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Blogs (weblogs): A website, generally published by a single author (although some group blogs exist), displaying dated entries in reverse chronological order. Additional features enable the author to categorise and archive each entry. Most blogs allow readers to use a comment function to provide feedback to the author.
Social Software: The range of applications that augment group interactions and shared spaces for collaboration, social connections, and aggregates information exchanges in a web-based environment. Social software is considered a major component of the current Web 2.0 applications.
RSS: Really Simple Syndication is a method of XML-based programming that allows content, or web-feeds, to be imported into other web pages by user subscription.
Wiki: Acollaborative authoring website application that allows users to easily write, edit, and publish to the Internet.
Vodcast: A video podcast, or video clip distributed on the Internet and available for download through RSS subscription and aggregation for playback on computers or portable devices.
Folksonomy: A user-generated categorizing system or taxonomy facilitated by applying popular or commonly referred to tags or labeling terms.
Web 2.0: A series of new generation or 2.0 release software applications available on the World Wide Web. Typically it includes applications that have a rapid, low cost approach to development, focused on mash-ups (created by combining different sources to create a composite application). Many applications are browser-based using a programming language called Ajax - intended to make the applications behave more like desk-top based software.
Social Bookmarking: A browser-based service, similar to a Favourites list, that allows the user to share internet bookmarks with others. Folksonomy tagging encourages the development of shared interest networks.
Podcast: A digital audio file distributed over the Internet, downloaded by subscribers for playback on computers or portable MP3 players.
Aggregator: A software application, often called a “feedreader” used to gather a subscriber’s RSS feeds and present them in a browser page. The aggregator is automatically updated on a regular basis with new content from the RSS feeds as they are published.