Online social tools for Higher Education – Journal Club 4.3.2011

John Murray came along to our session on Friday to discuss some ongoing research that he is conducting on developing social tools for Higher Education. We probably shouldn’t give away the specifics of what he’s doing just now, but there were some points that came up that are relevant to all applications that aim to improve student participation and engagement using online social tools.

One issue that we kept coming back to was that of anonymity – whether or not contributions from students to any social network-based education tool should be done under their own name, or anonymised. I am by no means an expert on the role of anonymity in contributions to online communities, but there has been a great deal written in this area. See this blog for example, and this Journal Article.

Another issue that came up was that we need to carefully consider the incentives that students have to participate in non-compulsory facets of the Higher Education experience. In this respect, we discussed this very interesting work (and this) which uses game-based feedback to inspire student motivation and engagement.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this project develops as it touches on some issues that are of real importance to some of the other work we are doing at LiSC.

Interestingly, last weeks graphical feedback seems to have prompted a huge upsurge in cake buying. We had a total of 5 cakes at the meeting – of which we ate only one. If anyone can suggest a nice solution for organising our ad-hoc cake buying it would be much appreciated.

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