Social Media + Gen Y Learning

The use of current and emerging social media technology is clearly moving us in the education community closer towards Tim Berners-Lee’s ideal of using the web as "an information space through which people can communicate…by sharing their knowledge in a pool.

In this world of increased web-based social interaction, meeting the unique needs of Gen Y learning styles is the bottom line.  In the 21 Century classroom, the ‘always on,’ student will control the how, what, and when a task is completed.

Gen Y students expect interactive, engaging content and course material that motivates them to learn through challenging pedagogy, conceptual review, and learning style adaptation. This approach offers Gen Y learners flexible, self-paced, customizable content available on-demand (via RSS feeds or Pipes).

Interactive and engaging content motivates students to learn through the course materials and apply them according to their own intrinsic needs and learning goals.

However, educators should be careful not to use social networking for the sake of using social media, rather they should keep in mind how the use of any type of technology element can support student learning--individually and as a collective group.

Social media engages the user in the content and allows them to be included as an active participant as they construct a learning landscape rooted in social interaction, knowledge exchange, and optimum cognitive development with their peers.

Gen Y + Multiple Intelligences

The following list illustrates how online learning styles (in this case Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences), and social software technologies can work together to support Gen Y learning styles, and foster community in the online and blended classroom.

Over the next couple weeks, I'll be showing what types of social media support each of the different Multiple Intelligences outlined by Howard Gardner. I'll also list specific social media tools that support each MI type.


  • Verbal-Linguistic > To do with words, spoken or written. People in this area are generally good at writing, oration, and learning from lectures.


  • Wiki
  • Podcasting
  • Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)
  • eMail


Weblog/Self Publishing Tools

Wiki Tools

Podcasting/Audio Tools

Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)


Moodle + YackPack = MoodlePack

Today I received fantastic news from Timothy Takemoto about a new YackPack group he started especially for the Moodle community:

"Thank you very much indeed Derek for bringing our attention to this tool. I have created a Moodlers yackpack so that Moodlers can test YackPack more easily. All you have to do is click on the link... Please click on the link to join: Launch and join Moodlers YackPack."

Come join us and learn all the ways you can use YackPack in Moodle...And thanks to Tim for starting the MoodlePack!

Web Resources

2006 Online Educa Berlin

Nicolas Chaunu, Chief Project Manager at eMob, reports that the 12th Annual 2006 Online Educa Berlin Conference will focus on the ways social media (edutainment, wikis, blogs, podcasting) can support student learning:

En effet, la prochaine édition de Online Educa Berlin est déjà
annoncée et le programme de cette année semble tout spécialement alléchant :

  • Serious Games
  • Apprentissage informel
  • Wikis, blogs, blikis (tiens, je le connaissais pas celui-là), podcasting dans un contexte d’apprentissage.
  • Evaluation de la performance (via)

Online Educa Berlin is one of the largest and most important international e-learning conferences in the world, attracting e-learning and online education professionals from both the public and private sectors.

The 2006 Online Educa Berlin Conference provides participants with an unique opportunity to network with collegues from around the globe, and is another reminder that this is an exciting time to be involved in the rapidly evolving world of e-learning.

Merci Nicolas and eMob!


Online Instructional Design

Applying Learning Theories to Online Instructional Design
Peter J. Patsula, Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul, South Korea

The following tutorial consists of five learning modules. Each module describes a learning theory and how that learning theory can be applied to improving online teaching and training materials.

Each module features:

  • a description of a well known learning theory;
  • a practical example of how the theory and related strategies can be applied to a particular instructional objective or web-design problem; and
  • a list of related pedagogical and web-design strategies as researched in the literature.

YackPack: Social by Design

YackPack founder B.J. Fogg recently announced that San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation will be utilizing YackPack as an educational tool in an upcoming exhibit on communication and innovation.

Here's an excerpt from his blog post:

"Now for the educational part . . . The kids will yack with other people inside their circle: a researcher, an inventor, and an engineer. We want the kids to see a pattern to innovation: Problem --> Invention --> Action.

At some point, the kids will listen to a message from a researcher, talking about finding a problem -- something that needs fixing. The kids will then (in theory), yack back to the researcher. Next, the kids will listen to an inventor talk about dreaming up solutions, and the kids yack back. Finally, the kids listen to an engineer talk about making things real."

At first glance, this seems like a pretty straightforward activity. But a closer look yields an example of how students benefit when learning activity takes place in a situated, authentic, and socially collaborative environment.

Let’s break down the key elements of this activity.

Social by Design: Situated Learning & Cognitive Apprenticeship

The situated learning theory argues that learning and knowledge acquisition takes place only when situated in a social and authentic context.

Ultimately this process –known as legitimate peripheral participation—moves the newcomer deeper into a community of practice leading them closer to acquiring the knowledge and skills required to be an expert.

Cognitive apprenticeship is an instructional design and learning theory wherein the instructor, through socialization, models the skill or task at hand for the student. Students may also receive guidance from their peers.

The role of the teacher is to help novices clear cognitive roadblocks by providing them with the resources needed to develop a better understanding of the topic. This process is called scaffolding.

Some of the most common cognitive roadblocks include: difficulty grasping theoretical concepts, unfamiliar terminology, or information presented in an abstract context.

In an effort to guide students around these roadblocks, an instructor would provide a scaffold consisting of resources, information broken into manageable chunks, or placed in a contextual framework.

The cognitive apprenticeship process requires students to take an active role in their own learning, creates a student-centered learning approach, and allows students to be a co-participant in their learning.

Ultimately the student becomes an expert who no longer needs the scaffolding. In turn, they will have a better understanding of potential roadblocks and are now equipped to guide others through the process.

Putting it All Together

In the YackPack museum activity, students will form a community of practice consisting of their peers, and several experts. Based on their existing knowledge, students will identify an issue and then Yack with the experts (and peers) on ways to solve the problem.

Since the students have been to the Tech Museum of Innovation the topic will be authentic and situated in a contextual framework. Moreover, the experts will be available to create scaffolding and clear cognitive roadblocks related to the topic.

Get Yacking!

Why not use YackPack and try something similar in your own classroom?

After a field trip to a local museum, arboretum, historical monument, or zoo break students into groups and have them reflect on their experience. Have them write down (or blog!) some questions or issues related to their field trip.

Then create a YackPack and invite an “expert” to answer the student’s questions. The “expert” can be someone from the education department at the museum, or a professor from a local university.

Or take a virtual tour of a museum located on the other side of the world! Combine the virtual tour with a group project, foreign language skills, or other skill set, and then invite an expert (see above!) to join your class in a YackPack discussion.

These YackPack-based learning activities provide students with opportunities to collaborate with their peers, learn from experts, use technology in a constructivist manner, and utilize information set in an authentic context.

So, what are you waiting for? Get Yacking!

Web Resources

Designing for Online Learning Communities

Online learning communities: Investigating a design framework
Chris Brook and Ron Oliver, Edith Cowan University 
Australian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET),2003, 19(2), 139-160.


"This paper reports the development of a design framework intended to support and guide online instructors in the development of a learning community.

The study was guided by an investigation of contemporary literature focused on the community construct, online learning community development and the collaborative construction of knowledge and the practices of experienced professionals working in the field.

The intended outcome is a design framework that may be useful in guiding instructors in the development of said communities."

Note: This is a very good article about online community design. I'm a big fan of AJET. It always has a very consistent, comprehensive, and progressive breadth of articles on eLearning, online community, social media, and other learning related topics!

Bookmark it! Read it! Enjoy!

Technology Encourages Active Learning

As e-Learning designers, information architects, and educators, we need to be aware of the symbiotic relationship between technology, knowledge transfer, and learning.

The Social Life of Learning

“Perhaps our generation focused on information, but these kids focus on meaning -- how does information take on meaning?" - John Seeley Brown

Recently I’ve been re-reading one of the seminal works on knowledge management and social learning--The Social Life of Information, by John Seeley Brown and Paul Duguid. Early in the book they point out that, “learning requires more than just information, but also the ability to engage in the practice.”

Brown/Duguid further illustrate the active nature of learning by outlining the (action-oriented) steps required for a “newbie” to effectively utilize, integrate, and understand a knowledge base existent within a Community of Practice (CoP) or learning community:

  • Become a member of a community
  • Engage in its practice
  • Acquire and make use of its knowledge

When learners fail to be actively “engaged in the practice” they will, in turn, be excluded from the “local topography” of the practice, as well as the opportunity to “understand the CoP from the inside out”—both of which are crucial in the transformation of information into meaning.

Actively Constructing Meaning

“Shifts in students’ learning style will prompt a shift to active construction of knowledge through mediated immersion.”-Chris Dede

Constructivist learning, according to Dr. Seymour Papert, “is grounded in the idea that people learn by actively constructing new knowledge, rather than having information 'poured' into their heads. Moreover, constructionism asserts that people learn with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful artifacts (such as computer programs, animations, or robots)."

Technology, especially for Gen Y, provides avenues that allow them to engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment. The theory of constructivist-based learning is even more powerful when placed in a social context, and dovetails nicely with The Social Life of Information concepts.

Gen Y, more than previous generations, approaches learning from a “what’s in it for me?” perspective. Students have grown up with digital and web technologies, and are used to picking and choosing how, what, where, and when they will learn. This trend has been dubbed the “Napsterization” of education.

Millennial students are “hard wired” to look at the smorgasbord of available technologies and then construct their own meaning based on their intrinsic learning goals and needs. In turn, these student directed learning styles have made the “drill and kill” teaching model less effective and relevant.

Technology as a Pathway to Learning

“Sharing knowledge is a lovely thing.”Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef

Under this new “digital pedagogy” learners tend to construct knowledge via self-directed and collaborative project based learning (PBL) activities, using asynchronous message boards, weblogs, forming social search communities, and using synchronous technologies such as real time textual chat or web cam’s.

As students go through process of choosing, utilizing, and integrating technology—social search communities, klogs, making QuickTime movies, creating podcasts, interactive web sites, ePortfolio’s, Flickr, blogging, computers, multiplayer gaming, or programming Lego/Logo—into their projects, it provides opportunities for them to be actively engaged, as well as acquire, share, and make use of community knowledge.

In addition, technology and socially rich project-based learning environments help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills—both essential elements for students to compete in a global knowledge-based society.

Constructing the Future of Learning

This shift in learning styles will have an impact beyond the walls of the classroom. As Seeley Brown points out, this trend has the potential to effect “not only to educators, but also…human resource departments, strategists, and marketing folks.”

One thing is clear, as millennials move from the classroom to the workforce, it will be increasingly important to deepen our understanding of these burgeoning digital learning styles and prepare educational and training programs (online and off) to meet their learning styles.


Academic Research on Tagging

The Structure of Collaborative Tagging Systems (pdf)
Scott A. Golder, Bernardo A. Huberman

In this paper Golder and Huberman, researchers at the Information Dynamics Lab at HP Labs, analyze tagging patterns, user behaviors, and the public structure of tagging systems.

Scott Golder also has a pdf available of his Tag Tuesday presentation, Personal Meaning and Public Structure in Tagging Systems, which is available by clicking here.


A Cognitive Analysis of Tagging (html)
Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D

In this weblog essay Dr. Sinha, a cognitive psychologist by profession, outlines her hypothesis on the cognitive process that takes place when users tag an item, and how tagging differs from categorization.

Viva Papert! And Kyle too...

I’m fascinated by the different and innovative ways people tweak and tinker with technology to meet their needs. Recently I posted an idea to blend Flickr + BlinkList to create an online tutorial.

Then just last week the My Web 2 blog posted an excellent “real life” example of a student utilizing his blog and online photo software to create an on-demand presentation about social bookmarking for his classmates. Great job Kyle!

Dr. Seymour Papert, co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, stresses the importance of bricolage (tinkering) as a pathway to creating concrete knowledge. Bricolage is a French word which (loosely translated) can be taken to mean "trial-and-error," learning by poking around, trying this or that until you eventually figure it out.

According to Dr. Papert this is one of the best ways to approach learning on the computer and very significantly, widens the range of opportunities to engage as a bricoleur. “If you do something wrong," he states, " the sky won't fall, you won't get shot. Just try again...Soon you will come to enjoy this process, becoming a true bricoleur.

So (and here's the big tie in) when thinking about integrating technology into your curriculum, you must allow yourselves (and your students) space and time to experiment with new technologies, and web tools in an authentic context. It's during this process of 'tinkering' that learners will be able to 'construct' new knowledge.

Moreover, utilizing web-based tools not only provides students with an opportunity to design their own learning experience through self-directed projects, but also allows them to work in a collaborative matter in an authentic context, using the technology as a tool to facilitate and support their own learning!

Tres cool, no?

Digital Culture & Learning in a Digital Age

"Rethinking how today's kids that grow up digital learn, think, work, communicate and socialize. Understanding today's digital kids is of growing importance, not only to educators, but also to human resource departments, strategists, and marketing folks.

Understanding the social practices and constructivist ecologies being created around open source and massively multiplayer games will provide a glimpse into new kinds of innovation ecologies and some of the ways that meaning is created for these kids -- ages 10 to 40.

Perhaps our generation focused on information, but these kids focus on meaning -- how does information take on meaning?" - John Seely Brown

Read more of John Seeley Brown's thoughts on learning in the digital age on his website. You can also view his presentation: The Social Life of Information in the Digital Age and Kids that Grow Up Digital ; view paper or video (Quicktime).

Blog to School

mgsOnline: The website of Musselburgh Grammar School, was the first British school to use public weblogs, where pupils could write posts and expect comments from their friends, teachers or anyone on the planet who wanted to have their say. They were used principally for international exchanges of work and ideas between pupils.

edublogs: Ewan McIntosh shows how blogs and podcasts aren't just a gimmick: they can be used to provide powerful learning in Scottish schools.

Blogbinders: A self-publishing tool that allows students to transform their weblogs into book format on demand.

RAMBLE (Remote Authoring of Mobile Blogs for Learning Environments) has been investigating the use of weblogs as a reflective authoring activity in an educational context.

Yahoo! 360: One of the key benefits of Yahoo! 360, in terms of educational blogging, is that it provides the user with the ability to manage who can view their personal information based, in part, on user-defined criteria. In other words, the user controls who has access to any and all parts of the content on their blog.

Now open for public beta, Yahoo! 360, features integration with several Yahoo! products including: Flickr, My Web 2.0 (via RSS Feeds), and a recently added feature allows users to blog via Yahoo! Messenger.

Social Media, e-Learning & Online Instructional Design

Online Learning Design That Fosters Student Support, Self-Regulation, And Retention, Campus-Wide Information Systems : The International Journal of Learning and Technology, (2005) Volume: 22 Number: 2

Authors Mercedes Fisher, PhD. Derek E. Baird, M.A.

Purpose: Investigating the social structure in online environments helps us design for and facilitate student (user) support and retention. Provides data showing how design and use of social media networking technologies provided collaborative learning opportunities for online students.

Design / Methodology / Approach: A study of computer-mediated groups that utilized social networking technologies and a web-based collaborative model in an online learning program. Participants were put into groups and observed as they used both online dialogue (synchronous and asynchronous) and social media technologies, such as blogs, as tools to support their learning.

Findings: The integration of web-based learning communities and collaborative group assignments into the course design has a positive influence on retention in online environments.

Research limitations / implications: The research was limited to the online student population at Pepperdine University, and did not include data or research from similar online programs at other universities. Future research should include data collected from students outside the U.S. to find out what role cultural mores, attitudes, and gender play in online learning.

Practical Implications: Provides curriculum design strategies that foster community, utilize social / participatory media, and support online student learning and retention through effective course design.

Originality / value: Current research on distance learning curriculum has focused on the instructor’s perspective. We feel that research from the student’s perspective can also yield some valuable insights for online course design.

Pepperdine University Guest Lecture e-handout

Hello to the Pepperdine MA Education Technology Cadre 7: The Magnificent 007s!

I’m looking forward to meeting with you all in EDC 665:Curriculum and Technology to discuss adult learning theory and strategies for using social network media in online training/education.

Here is an outline of our discussion for tonight. I’ve also included a quick overview of Andragogy vs. Pedagogy to get our discussion off to a flying start and for you to use as a reference as we dig deeper into the topic!

Thanks again for inviting me!

Derek E. Baird

Pepperdine Graduate School of Education & Psychology
M.A. Education Technology

Lecture e-Handout

1.What is Andragogy? (15 min)

Foundations & Theory
Teen vs. Adult Learning
Pedagogy vs. Andragogy

2. Practical Applications (15 min)
Andragogy in web-based VLEs
Role of Knowledge Managers/Trainers/Educators
How to Write Great Learning Objectives

3. Instructional Tools on the Horizon (5 min)
Blogs & RSS

4. Q & A (10 min)