Implement a Professional Network to Advance Active Learning


Author: Lisa Rapple

Professional Networking Tool


Learners will appreciate social-constructivist theories as a lens to identifying the goals and constructing environments of social learning.


Constructivist learning theories propose that learning occurs during the interactions and sharing of learners; that learning is a social process best constructed within a collaborative context (Bruner, 1996, Vygotsky, 1978). Researchers have demonstrated that the learner information retention improves when collaboratively working with others versus working as an individual (Johnson & Johnson, 1986). Additionally, learning environments that rely on active participation have been shown to be the most effective. Social networks as an educational tool are focused not on delivering content but rather on providing social connectivity to the participants, or in the online classroom, the learner. A Web 2.0 tool such as this is reliant on user contributions and interactions. This encourages and supports collaboration and sharing of information, hence supporting social and active learning. Used properly and in the appropriate context, engaging learners in a social network will create an interactive, collaborative learning experience. This can be especially successful for higher education students who are described by Prensky (2001) as "digital natives" and more apt to be familiar with the Internet, social networks and computers. Ajjan & Hartshorne (2008)examined the factors that best predict the adoption of social networking tools by faculty for instructional purposes. The results indicate that training is an important means to increase Web 2.0 usage. Training has more influence than availability of resources and technology. To this end, this mini-course was conceived. Based on the strongest influencers of behavioral intentions revealed in the decomposed theory of planned behavior model, this mini-course intends to significantly impact faculty implementation of social network tools in higher education online classrooms.

Unit One: Making the Choice: Using a Professional Network in Higher Education

Target Objective: Learner will appreciate the issues for consideration when choosing to use a social network tool in higher education

Unit Two: Designing Learning Activities in a Professional Network

Target Objective: Learner will appreciate designing a social learning activity in a Web 2.0 social network such as LinkedIn.

Unit Three: Conducting a Learning Activity in a Professional Network

Target Objective: The learner will appreciate the positive cultural impact of a social network on learning.

Unit Four: Assessing Effectiveness of Learning in a Professional Network

Target Objective: Learner will appreciate the importance and the methods for incorporating formative and summative assessments in social learning activities


Rapple References and Resources