With the changes in the Higher Education landscape there has been a recent emergence in ‘social learning’ – informal learning taking place on social platforms and within online communities.
Users connect with OER (Open Education Resources) made freely available from across the web and collate for a holistic subject view for self-education.
The content and the learner’s interaction with it is then socialised through peer review and online collaboration, in some cases remixing the original content by factoring in new content for repurpose it for personal use. It is this ability to remix content to individual needs that puts the user at the centre of their own learning.
With the increase in the use of third party social media/networking platforms across the web, and subsequently the world, the ability to learn and collaborate with others (whether friends or absolute strangers) is now a reality.
The Open University has been at the forefront of creating multi-platform learning opportunities through the development and co-ordination of the University’s public-facing content on television, radio, iTunes U, and YouTube, culminating in the online hub of OpenLearn, through which the OU distributes free learning materials.
These channels enable the OU to reach a wide, global audience and are designed to open up informal learning for anyone who wants to learn, whatever their educational needs and experience.
SocialLearn now takes this revolution one step further, as The Open University’s new experimental online learning space has been launched as an early beta release.
SocialLearn provides an effectual learning space that gives users an effectual learning space to give users the control of what and how they learn, and with whom, by harnessing the power of the web and the energy of social networking, going beyond the realms of just OU content to the OER content of the world.
SocialLearn is open to anyone and is entirely free.
The platform is aimed at those who want to advance their personal learning no matter what the subject and will continue to develop as the community grows.
Learners can benefit from a wealth of learning tools to give structure to personal learning journeys with key features of SocialLearn including:
- Learning paths – user-generated ‘playlists’ of learning resources provide step-by-step guides to help explain ideas and help people progress in their informal studies
- A virtual “backpack” enables users to bookmark, comment and rate any website they visit, and import materials back into their own SocialLearn portal – creating a personalised ‘scrapbook’ of learning materials from across the web
- Social networking tools such as status updates, friends and follow, ratings, and the ability to create groups of like-minded learners
- Experimental learning recommendations personalise the experience and guide users towards relevant content and people across the web
The Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean said: “The rise and rise of informal, personal learning continues today with SocialLearn, a very exciting new development from the OU.
“This free website combines the very best open educational resources and social networking tools, and offers the great potential that comes from people connecting and sharing learning materials.
“It is a point of pride for me that the Open University is spearheading this new kind of collaborative space,” he said.
To find out more about SocialLearn log on at www.open.edu/sociallearn