Learning in Commons: Developing a Social Network as a Learning Environment

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learning is both personal and social at the same time. In order to investigate the impact on learning and social behaviors of graduate level educational technology students, a social network, the University Commons, was developed using Elgg software. During the study, students participated in an online course which was conducted solely in University Commons. Findings suggest that students engaged in meaningful and productive collaborations and interactions while meeting the requirements for the course. Structure of the presentation: This talk will have two main parts: Part 1 will be an overview of the design of a social network as a learning environment, which used Elgg as the social networking software. Data from a pilot study will be shared showing the benefits of such an environment. Mainly, these were increased autonomy and participation by the students, best explained as a distribution of the teacher presence within the Communities of Inquiry model of Garrison and Anderson. Part 2 will give the participants hands-on experience in working with this kind of learning environment. In this way, the session will be blended. Outcomes: Participants will leave the session with design principles for creating a social network as a powerful learning environment.


Dr. Gerald Ardito has been working in Education for almost three decades. His experience includes adult education, adolescent Biology, and most recently higher education. He is the Assistant Chair and Assistant Professor of STEM-D Education at Pace University's School of Education. His research interests include the development of self-directed, technology-enhanced learning environments.

Extended Abstract