Social Pedagogies and CourseNetworking at Purdue University

Purdue is currently collaborating with CourseNetworking (CN) to explore the possibility of offering faculty an alternative learning management system (LMS) that requires little administration and allows first-time users to quickly create courses independently. This light-weight LMS uses a familiar interface and focuses on academic social networking.

Ali Jafari, , professor of computer and information technology at Purdue’s School of Engineering and Technology and director of the CyberLab, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and the founder of CN was quoted in a recent Purdue News article:

“The learning systems we have today were developed almost two decades ago,” Jafari says. “We need to invent the next generation. We need to learn a lesson from Facebook and Twitter that connecting people together and let them learn from each other is a more effective way to go.”1

A new social learning-based system focused on networking and collaboration that produces a highly interactive learning environment, CN has the potential to connect instructors and students from around the world based on shared interests and subject areas. The walls between classrooms are broken down enabling learners from different classes and schools to have dynamic discussions and freely share learning resources through: Posts, Polls, Events and more. CN transforms the traditional teacher-centered learning environment to a more engaging and effective student-centered learning environment. Students enjoy their learning experience by “following” and “colleaguing” other learners, by compiling learning resources on their own, and through a unique reward system, collecting Anar seeds, that many instructors use to incentivize the learning and engagement.

Randy Bass in his 2012 Educause article, Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education, discusses the pressures that are being felt in higher education due at least in part to the evidence that significant learning experiences are happening outside of the formal curriculum. He describes the pressures coming from two sides: 1) “data surrounding experiential learning, and 2) the informal learning and the participatory culture of the Internet.”2

Instructors can create tasks in CN that include “Smart Links”. These links allow the students to quickly access functionality such as: creating posts, responding to polls, and submitting assignments into a “Dropbox” area of the course for grading.

The course interface is familiar to the students. CN is designed to allow students to post multimedia easily and efficiently. Students frequently share resources found on the Internet. This informally appears to be quite motivating for the students. Their observed interactions frequently indicate their understanding of the content being learned and their ability to connect it to real life experiences, making the learning relevant.

To learn more about CN, visit http://www.thecn.com

Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

1Tally, S. (15 October 2013). “Purdue, Course networking to collaborate on next-generation edtech.” Purdue News.

2Bass, R. (2012, March/April). “Disrupting ourselves: The problem of learning in higher education.” EDUCAUSE Review. 47(2), 23-33. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/disrupting-ourselves-problem-learning-higher-education

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