Open Technologies and Social Media as Enablers of Collaborative Learning

Technologies and Social Media as Enablers of Collaborative Learning

Stephen Quinton and Matthew Allen

to be published in Collaborative Learning 2.0: Open Educational Resources (eds Alexandra Okada, Teresa Connolly and Peter Scott; IGI Publishing, 2011) see for more details of this volume


While many educational institutions throughout the world have introduced online learning as a delivery option, there is little evidence to indicate a predominance of solutions that advance pedagogical diversity and learning effectiveness. Aside from a few innovative exceptions, the design of most online learning environments is structured around the conventional instructional model, which inherently does not afford the flexibility required to take full advantage of the socialising and information sharing potential of web 2.0 technologies.

Online learners are not equipped with the tools required to organise their work, group learning is not always readily available, team-focussed problem-based learning activities are not easily supported and managed, and productive engagement with the wider community is not always feasible. Outside the campus intranet, countless people ‘collaborate’ with each other using ‘virtual’ online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

The Internet continually offers new tools to support such activities, but there is an obvious disparity between what people experience on the Internet and what university online delivery platforms provide. Bridging this gap is only part of the solution as there is also the unrealised potential of students’ web 2.0 expertise to consider. There is something incongruous in the notion of applying web 2.0 technologies to learning and teaching without enlisting the support of the very audience that by and large have been the drivers of web 2.0 innovations.

Full pre-publication paper