Social Communities of Design and Makers and their Impact on Learning

Social Communities of Design and Makers and their Impact on Learning

Norman Gwangwava (Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana), Albert U. Ude (Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana), Enoch N. Ogunmuyiwa (Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Palapye, Botswana) and Richard Addo-Tenkorang (Aalborg Universitet, Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IJEEI.2018010103

Abstract

The past two decades have seen a rapid growth in the Maker communities and Communities of Enquiry. Unlike social media, these communities have a unique goal of sharing special skills as well as enquiring about special knowledge areas. Advancements in web technologies and models of delivery, in particular, cloud computing (CC), enables the communities to thrive virtually. The authors focus on the technocratic communities interested in designing and making things. These are also known as hobbyists or hackers, in their respective scientific or engineering disciplines. Various online platforms continue to surface, modelled around the Maker concept. The article scrutinizes the value and impact of these communities in learning. A new model for inspiring innovation in knowledge-based economies and building communities of industry and end-user ready product maker is presented and discussed.
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Introduction

The digital economy is no longer a dream but has become a reality to grapple with. Technology is growing very fast, coupled with major innovations across all the economic sectors. The world faces a dilemma of trying to envisage future jobs in a digital global economy with smart cities. The majority of jobs are completely transforming into a technical form due to rampant innovations around the technologies used. The 21st century witnessed a new wave of big data and associated technologies. This changed the world’s view to information systems and data modelling. The wide availability of the Internet and Internet-enabled gadgets ushered in a new dimension that allows people of same interests to come together virtually. These networks of people with common interests are defined as social networks or virtual communities. The communities encourage interaction, sometimes focusing around a particular interest or just to communicate. Community members are allowed to interact over a shared passion through various means such as message boards, online chat engines, social networking sites, or virtual worlds (Maloney-Krichmar & Preece, 2005; Groenewegen & Moser, 2014). Social networking emerged as one of the most popular communication tools of the 21st century. A proliferation of social media tools is used to promote social networking. During early days of the social media boom, these platforms were viewed as avenues for youthful play and interaction. Later on, the corporate world adopted social networking as part of their marketing and communication strategies. Since their introduction, social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Telegram, LinkedIn and Twitter have attracted millions-to-billions of users. Younger generations of the ages forty (40) years and below have integrated these networks into their daily practices. Ignoring the most active population of the world can only be done at one’s own peril (Ellison & Boyd, 2013). Social networks support a wide range of interests and practices. With the rapid development of Web 2.0 tools and social computing, users can now be active participants in the construction of their own learning experiences as well as developing their own advanced technologies and products. Technologies like makerspace communities, blogs, wikis, media-sharing services, mashups, and collaborative platforms are harnessing the “collective intelligence” of communities, promoting sharing of knowledge and collaborative design and making of technology platforms and products for personal use (Mason & Rennie, 2008). Modern students are already fully engaged with Web. 2.0 technologies and confidently use social networking tools and online social spaces in their personal lives (McCaroll & Curan, 2013).

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