The concept of social networking is discussed in the article "Transparency in Cooperative Online Education" written by Christian Dalsgaard (Aarhus University, Denmark) and Morten Flate Paulsen (The Norwegian School of Information Technology, Norway). [Read here]
To understand better this concept, I found in Wikipedia the following explanation:
“The shape of a social network helps determine a network's usefulness to its individuals. Smaller, tighter networks can be less useful to their members than networks with lots of loose connections (weak ties) to individuals outside the main network. More open networks, with many weak ties and social connections, are more likely to introduce new ideas and opportunities to their members than closed networks with many redundant ties. In other words, a group of friends who only do things with each other already share the same knowledge and opportunities. A group of individuals with connections to other social worlds is likely to have access to a wider range of information. It is better for individual success to have connections to a variety of networks rather than many connections within a single network. Similarly, individuals can exercise influence or act as brokers within their social networks by bridging two networks that are not directly linked (called filling structural holes).”
However, Prof. Morten concludes on the article mentioned above that, from the perspective of the theory of cooperative freedom, “social networking should be considered as a supplement to other tools. The potential of social networking lies within transparency and the ability to create awareness among students.” Maybe we should agree, in relation to learning, that people do not necessarily collaborate or communicate directly in networks. And we should have in mind that in learning communities, students’ interdependence success works well if individual participation is combined with collaborative or cooperative learning.
Then a question is asked: does networks support learning? As to answer it, some authors and their work that use concepts connected to “social networks” are cited too. Thus, we learn that this expression is still a challenge to online education investigators…