Unit Three: Conducting a Learning Activity in a Professional Network

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Target Objective

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

Unit Learning Objectives

  1. Learner will understand that the quality of education increases in a social learning community.
  2. Learner will understand the role of the instructor in a social learning community.
  3. Learner will understand the role of the social networking web tool (LinkedIn) plays in supporting a social learning community.
  4. Learner will understand the imperative for using social learning communities in higher education.

Conducting a Learning Activity

When conducting a learning activity in a social network collaborative learning among students should be supported by the instructor. Students should be encouraged to have an active exchange of ideas and resources, considering the instructor as a co-learner. A social network provides a level plane for active learning exchanges among learners. By creating this environment of collaboration a higher level of thoughts will be achieved and information will be retained longer (Johnson & Johnson, 1986). Students embrace the responsibility for their own learning and exploration of resources. As the instructor, your role becomes co-learner and affords you the opportunity to model the behaviors that best support active learning. You serve as facilitator to engage students with experts and professional organizations within the professional network. Lastly, you serve as moderator and encourage students to self-moderate the collective.

Cultural Impact of a Social Network Learning Community

Reduce transactional distance in online learning

According to Brelaczyc and Collins (1999), there are four characteristics of a social learning community, as can be created in a social network, that supports a social constructivist learning model. There is a diversity of expertise brought to the group, the group has a common goal of advancing the knowledge across the group, there is an emphasis placed on learning how to learn, and there is a mechanism to share what is learned. The social networking tool (LinkedIn) provides that mechanism. Brelaczyc and Collins make three arguments for using a learning community. It supports a social-constructivist model where knowledge construction works best, it serves the demands of 21st century learners who need to learn how to learn because the volume of knowledge has grown past the capacity of one individual to retain, and it exposes the students to working in a multicultural environment. By forming a small-group for learning within the larger professional community of LinkedIn, the students work in mutual engagement, attending to the task at hand and one another in coordinated exchanges. The students serve as contributors and responders in the small group (Darling-Hammond, 2008).


Watch: http://www.youtube.com/embed/e9JJ_Luhvr4"


Consider what statistic impressed you the most in the video. Weigh the pros and cons discussed in Unit one against the educational benefits and imperatives that the video points out. Explain what the phrase used by Darling-Hammond means to "Learn to learn" How would you design an activity in a social network that would focus on developing skills needed by 21st century students?


Rapple References and Resources


Go to Unit Four: Assessing Effectiveness of Learning in a Professional Network

Course Home Page

Implement a Professional Network to Advance Active Learning