About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2937-2940
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

USING SOCIAL TOOLS TO INTRODUCE INFORMAL LEARNING IN POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION

N. Serrat Antolí, A. Rubio Carbo

University of Barcelona (SPAIN)
In the current process of redefining the university, learning strategies from outside the classroom and beyond university studies have become a bastion to defend (Hinton, 2009; Serrat, Rubio & Cano, 2010). At the same time, we see that informal learning finds in Web 2.0 a broad and fruitful field of action (Brown & Adler, 2008). Outside the formal curriculum (Livingston, 2000), while informal learning is generated in an implicit and unstructured way in unforeseen and unplanned situations (Eraut, 2004), the frequent and varied exchanges which Web 2.0 promotes nourish informal learning (Jokisalo & Riu, 2009).

In this context, the University of Barcelona Institute for Lifelong Learning (IL3-UB) offers online and face-to-face masters and courses with a professional orientation. Thus, apart from using Moodle as an LMS to support learning, other Web 2.0 elements are used to foster students’ personal and professional development.

During last 2010-11 academic year, one particular group caught our attention. On the Community Management and Social Media postgraduate course the participants carried out, apart from teacher-set tasks, numerous out-of-class communication and information exchange activities. These were Web 2.0 exchanges defined by the students themselves: no one planned, guided or evaluated them.

With these reflections as a backdrop we designed a study with three main aims:
a) Understanding what social tools were used to which purpose –only if related to the course contents.
b) Determining students’ perceptions of what they gained from the group and what they contributed to.
c) Determining if they transfer to the workplace what they learnt in social tools.


Method
Our sample was 84 students on the above-mentioned postgraduate course. The sample was interesting for the study not only because of the technophile pro-social tools profile, but also because of the average age was around 35, which means that many students worked in areas close to the course content and showed interest in keeping up-to-date and developing useful strategies for continuing learning post-course.

Instruments used
A map of tools was drawn to know which social tools students used to which purpose; a student questionnaire; a content analysis of the messages they produced; an a focus group.

Initial results
Concerning the tools they mostly used, the students did not access the Moodle classroom as frequently as normal. Messages inside the LMS were limited to course activities, adopting a more formal and academic style. They used social networks – mainly Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – as natural extensions of the classroom and natural sites of learning.

Concerning the matters discussed in the networks, all themes were treated. Technical, professional, academic and even juridical questions were discussed in Facebook. Outside the Moodle classroom, students made three types of exchanges. They mainly changed information resources, but they also solved academic, technological and course content problems.

Concerning the usefulness of what learned, students stated that what they had learned on the web is positively useful for transfer to present or future workplaces. Thus, they feel the learning generated through social tools is useful to them for learning course contents, such as broadening and complementing knowledge, making personal and professional networking, and getting to know technologies they had not previously used.
@InProceedings{SERRATANTOLI2012USI,
author = {Serrat Antol{\'{i}}, N. and Rubio Carbo, A.},
title = {USING SOCIAL TOOLS TO INTRODUCE INFORMAL LEARNING IN POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {2937-2940}}
TY - CONF
AU - N. Serrat Antolí AU - A. Rubio Carbo
TI - USING SOCIAL TOOLS TO INTRODUCE INFORMAL LEARNING IN POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 2937
EP - 2940
ER -
N. Serrat Antolí, A. Rubio Carbo (2012) USING SOCIAL TOOLS TO INTRODUCE INFORMAL LEARNING IN POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 2937-2940.
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