While it is safe to assume that this concept is probably as old as our civilization, Internet technology has changed the way we learn through social software tools. Blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, instant messaging and online communities transformed social learning and play an important role in the learning process of today’s learners.
Recognizing the potential for social software applications to support meaningful collaboration and knowledge-building in online communities, a consortium of BC post-secondary institutions (BCIT, UBC, SFU and UVic) initiated in 2005/06 the first phase of the development of a project titled Social Software Framework. This BCcampus-funded project delivered an online knowledge repository (www.sociallearning.ca) in the form of an interactive blog. The Social Learning site houses tools, templates, tutorials, workshop materials, screencasts, podcasts, and a blog that will be populated with custom-created materials and some of the best research available from the educational community in BC and worldwide.
Building upon the success of the first phase, a second phase for this pilot project is currently underway. BCIT, a leader of this project, partnered up with three private companies: Lambda Solutions, Donat Group, and Odyssey Learning, who were tasked to create a support system for five participating institutions in British Columbia. The development of the project includes creation of custom templates, Instructional Design management and ongoing technical support.
During the second phase, the participating companies will determine whether the SocialLearning.ca is useful to educators and students across BC and how it can be implemented both into the curriculum and the existing systems. The companies will also research and develop a management system for the site that would allow BCcampus and other participating institutions to maintain and support this innovative tool.