Research Scope:

The Learning with Social Software Research Project is really two projects which have been scoped separately, viz one exploring how social software can best support teaching and learning in Vocational Education and Training (VET) and the other exploring how these same technologies can best support knowledge sharing and staff learning and development within and across organisations. However, because they are both an intrinsic part of a learning ecology, there are obvious overlaps and insights relevant to both.

So, What's In?

In conducting this research we focussed on a narrow band of social software not yet researched by the Framework and that have begun to be successfully used in the teaching and learning environment of VTE. These were Blogs, Wikis, Virtual Conferencing and Social Bookmarking software (see glossary).

We also recognised that the social software landscape is dynamically changing. It is likely that specific tools will be rapidly enhanced or superseded. Hence, rather than have a focus on specific technologies, our approach has been to see social software as a whole and the findings should be viewed as applying to the use of all social software generally rather than a specific few.

There was some disagreement over the inclusion of Virtual Conferencing under the umbrella of Social Software (See discussion on the Social Software for Learning Blog), but because it is recognised across VET in Australia as playing a very important role in community building and teaching and learning it remained in the scope. The researchers acknowledge however, that its inclusion could be considered outside the boundaries of social software.

Although the main focus of the research was VET, data gathered came from a much broader landscape including all the different educational sectors as well as corporations within and external to Australia. It was considered that lessons learnt from within and external to VET would provide much richer data to inform the practice of VET.