Carlos III University of Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4260-4270
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Nowadays there is no doubt that information technology has changed the way we perform our daily activities. Education is one of the realms were information technology is making the difference. From the most recent technologies one of the most popular among youngsters are social networks; it could be an annoyance for teachers to see their students surfing around Facebook while they are trying to teach. But if a social network like this is becoming popular, why not try to take advantage of this fact? On this paper authors present a teaching experience using a social network as an enabler of group learning and collaborative work. Authors are university lecturers and they propose on this paper a collaborative learning strategy named “Live Learning Strategy” that supports, on the one hand, lectures and knowledge management in order to identify, create, represent and transfer the key concepts and knowledge regarding their subjects. On the other hand, the strategy uses a social network that combines the case study method together with a collaborative work scenario in order to promote the creativity and group learning among students.

In order to be deployed, the “Live Learning Strategy” implies a working methodology and a technological platform. The working methodology entails three main phases:
• Phase 1 “Knowledge Live Transferring”: In this phase lecturers transmit formal and key concepts through a master class; this class could be hold on-line or in-person. It is mandatory that during the class, the lecturer use real-world examples where the knowledge that is transferring to students has been applied.
• Phase 2 “Knowledge Live Explanation”: In order to strengthen the transferred knowledge, this phase implies figuring out an example where the key concepts previously explained in phase 1 could be applied. Lecturer and students solve the example in parallel in order to promote a group-learning environment where, if there is a question from any student, the lecturer or any student could solve it immediately.
• Phase 3 “Collaborative Learning Experience”: In this phase students have the opportunity to experiment a computer supported collaborative work environment while solving a case study. Lecturer and students use the social network as collaborative work platform; everybody is a user in the social network, nevertheless they play different roles. Lecturers play as couches or mentors during the case studies resolution while students are organized into working groups.

Authors propose the use of a social network not only as a communication tool but also as a collaboration and e-learning tool. The social network by itself helps to create a virtual learning community among students and lecturers, and in order to enable knowledge management a learning knowledge base (LKB) is connected to the social network. The LKB is always updated with lecture materials; new exercises and examples of real projects and all users into the social network have full access to it.

The paper is structured as follows. In section 1 introduction to social networks and its importance in education is given; in section 2 we present similar approaches in other universities that serve us as inspiration, we also spotlight their pros and cons; in section 3 a detailed description of the “Live Learning Strategy” is given together with an explanation of its deployment in a university course. Finally, conclusions and future works are given in section 4.
social networks, cscw, learning experiences, knowledge management.