Last week I attended EARLI 2013 Conference in Munich. A really exciting meeting, with hundreds of participants and topics related with the conference theme Responsible Teaching and Sustainable Learning.
Professor Bart Rienties (University of Surrey) organized the symposium No. 25 Understanding emerging knowledge spillovers in small-group learning, a social network perspective in which I participated with Juliette Hommes (Maastricht University), Tuire Palonen and Koen Veermans (University of Turku), and Divya Jindal-Snape (University of Dundee) as discussant.
This symposium tries to assess whether teams also learn from the experiences of other teams in their class, what the underlying mechanisms for creating these learning spaces are, and how teachers can effectively design courses and modules that encourage students and teams to learn from each other. In this symposium, we will explore how dynamic Social Network Analysis allows researchers and teachers to capture and understand the complexity of knowledge spillovers occurring inside and outside the classroom. Social Network Analysis (SNA) can be considered as a wide-ranging strategy to explore social structures to uncover the existence of social positions of (sub)groups within the network (Katz, et al., 2004; Krackhardt & Stern, 1988; Rienties, et al., 2009). In a review of Social Network Analysis (SNA) for small groups, Katz et al. (2004) argue that the network perspective can help researchers to identify and explore social network interaction features in teams or networks. The three papers of this symposium, which are situated in small-group settings in Oviedo (Spain), problem-based learning in Maastricht (The Netherlands), and project-based learning in Guildford (UK), all use active learning methods in combination with ICT. Students learn and interact in small-group settings, but also have several formal and informal activities to share knowledge between students and teams. All three papers use Social Network Analysis (SNA) in their analyses, and together their contributions address three fundamental questions in the symposium:
- How do knowledge spillovers between learners and teams develop (over time)?
- How do prior friendships enhance or hamper knowledge spillovers in networks?
- How can teachers design group based learning environments that enhance knowledge spillover
Many participants attended our session and the general impression is that the topic and the methodology are really interesting.
You can also find some more information about our work in the last year Eighth International Conference on Networked Learning 2012