Wednesday, February 27, 2008

social networking and the distance learner

There is a great post from PHM3 that really got me thinking: his notion (and there are many others out there in traditional learning environments already doing so) of using social software to provide a way for students with similar interests/majors etc. to find each other, I think, could be a very useful tool for our working adult, distance learners. In many cases, these students are working through their degree in isolation, with their only contact being with their mentor. I would guess that many students might find it advantageous to find others within the college who have similar personal or research interests, hobbies, areas of concentration, locales, or even professions.

At present, we have no significant college presence in Facebook or any other social network system that I know of, but I've been pondering putting forth a proposal to my bosses to set one up and promote it to our students and faculty (the hardest part: getting buy in) so that we can foster a better sense of community, which I think is so hard to build in the distance learning environment. But I think it has vast potential if we can put in place enough tools and services so that the incentive to join would be there. Putting the library front and center of that community would also be a plus for us and the college as a whole.

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