Universidade do Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3434-3439
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The society we are living in is commonly called information society and also knowledge society. Recently, it has also been called the learning society due to deep changes in economy, politics and education that , mostly, in the ways we conceive knowledge. These changes are due to the Internet spreading that revolutionized the ways we communicate and interact both in the workplace and in our everyday lifes. Web 2.0 technologies offer different syncronic and assyncronic communication tools and allow people to accede the network and integrate virtual communities where common interests are shared and discussed. Different communities have emerged with the purpose of answering the needs of different social spheres and knowledge fields. There are those who seek for economic, religious, cultural or sportive activities, etc. Others look for professional refinement, creating real organized networks to share knowledge and spaces of collaborative learning. The present article investigates whether virtual communities created using Social Web Software, can (or cannot) constitute an informal learning environment to the professional development of teachers. To achieve this aim, an analytic study was done involving 75 (seventy-five) communities from Orkut Social Network, which approached the themes of Education, Training and Technology. In this context of analysis, we have detected interesting differences in the functioning dynamics of communities that had an e-moderator has a dynamizor element (moderated communities) and those who hadn't that element (public communities). In fact, the presence of the e-moderator as the element that instigates the participation of the members in discussions, makes a richer, more dynamic, critical and reflexive environment, contributing significantly to the construction of knowledge in a collaborative way. It was possible to observe that in moderated communities, goals are more centered in educative and formative questions. In relation to the usage of communication tools, it was also in moderated communities where we found more expressivity. In what concerns the language type used, the presence of a critical and reflexive language, essential to learning, made evidence only in half of the moderated communities. This information deserves a better reflection by the communities’ members and e-moderators, which need a greater counsciousness about the role they have to play so that in the future, the construction of knowledge could be the result of critical reflections and members’ contributions, having the same aim, working together in a collaborative way. Therefore, the data obtained in this study allow us to conclude that moderated communities present a great potential to be seen as ideal places to informal learning.

internet, social networks, virtual communities, orkut, e-moderator.