Designing learning around web 2.0 principles can provide individuals with a means of staying current whilst catering for their intuitive ‘what’s in it for mean’ mentality.
Conole (2008) describes a number of models by which learning design can be built around using the structure of social networking sites, as “sharing is a fundamental human activity” (McLeod, 2007), and “social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object.”
Weller (2008a) defines a social object as: “something (it can be real or virtual) that facilitate conversation, and thus social interaction”, and is the basis of popular web 2.0 sites like Flickr, Delicious, Facebook and Twitter, by making activities such as uploading, viewing and sharing as easy as possible, and recognizing that an individual’s profile on these sites are also ‘social objects’, as they are a “constructed representation around which interaction takes place” and are social objects in their own right.
Knorr-Cetina (2001 - Objectual practice) states “that objects have become increasingly important in today’s society and that objects are increasingly replacing and mediating human relationships.”
“In education, the primary social object is content and … the educational value is not in the content itself but the social interaction, which occurs around the content.” (Weller, 2008a)
Engeström (2008) has five principles for design
i. Clearly define the social object your service is built around. ie designs, resources, tools and user profiles.
ii. Define the verbs that users perform on the objects, so that is it clear what the site is for ie ‘finding’ and ‘sharing’.
iii. Make the objects shareable and easy to use; they encourage users to input social objects, link to other related social networking sites, have interactive design widgets, and runnable learning design sequences, allow social objects to be virally spread through different communication channels and to different communities, offer deep-level integration with a number of other sites/communities and dynamic sharing across the sites appropriate objects, tagging
iv. Turn invitations into gifts. Provide fun interactive sessions, acknowledge, user generated favourite designs and linking to other events and activities, prizes for the best entries, will add dynamically to the user’s profile
v. Charge the publishers, not the spectators (may have less relevance in educationally social learning design)
Bouman (2007) considers other factors into this design framework: that which encourages socialization amongst the learning community: accommodating both the evolution of practices and the inclusion of newcomers; ensuring individual identity is also important ie mechanisms to enable the development of identities; people are more inclined to use software systems that resemble their daily routines, language and practices; metaphors and structures that mimic real life practices are likely to be more successful. … “The framework is based around four design domains: enabling practice, mimicking reality, building identity and actualising self.”
Siemens (2008) recognizes that the context of the learning will dictate how effective this style of learning design will be, and that traditional educational structures (ie timetabling, funding etc) will need the capacity to adapt in order to support them.
Conole (2008) also recognizes that “there is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices. For example, today’s digital environment is characterised by speed and immediacy; … This seems contradictory to traditional notions of education; the need to reflect, to build cumulatively on existing knowledge and develop individual understanding over time.” and that we will need systems of ‘slow learning’ such as is happening in the ‘slow food’ movement, and that “if information is abundantly available, surely assessment processes which focus primarily on knowledge recall are inappropriate”.
I would be interested to know about more learning examples which use a non-linear approach to their design.