Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
The book addresses online learning from a social perspective - learning together, learning from each other, social software for learning, social learning theories, modes of social engagement, pedagogical challenges for teaching online, potential dangers to security and privacy, and what the future may hold. This is a comprehensive treatment of theory, practice and pedagogy. I particularly like the perspective of learning not only from individuals but also from their collective behavior and interactions. This provides an interesting premise for future research on social networks and learning. Another highlight is the Three-Generational Model that divides the three pedagogical eras of developments in distance learning.The authors provide an excellent index and list of references. While a glossary is not provided, an explanation and definition of terms is included within the text.
Accuracy rating: 5
The content is accurate and any bias is clearly stated and supported. There are many examples of theories and explanations of applicability to a social learning context.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 5
The text is current and includes a valuable case study that allows the reader to apply the models and methods presented. The book also considers the future, based on the observed state of transition within the social technology arena in relation to educational systems. Updating this text will be relatively easy as future events unfold.
Clarity rating: 5
The text is written clearly, useful subheadings are included, and figures, models and tables help illustrate and clarify concepts and theories.
Consistency rating: 5
The authors have achieved excellent consistency in terms of terminology and their approach to presenting an understanding of social software use and equipping educators with the knowledge and skill to use educational software.
Modularity rating: 5
The text is very well organized and can easily be used to support various sections within a course. The chapter on social learning theories can be used in a theory building course, a social network course, or a course on educational software. Similarly chapters 4 to 7 can be bundled for use with instructional design. Chapter 8 is useful as a case study for systems design.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5
The arrangement of the chapters facilitates a deep understanding of the use, theoretical background and approaches to social online learning. While the chapters can be read singly or as groups, a linear progression does enhance a deeper appreciation of the connected approach by the authors.
Interface rating: 5
The interface is very clear and all models and tables are easy to read.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
The text contains no grammatical errors.
Cultural Relevance rating: 3
The objective approach of the book ensures that it is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The focus is on social learning through common learning goals. Chapter 6 on Learning in Sets has an excellent discussion of tribal underpinnings that extends beyond race and ethnicity to backgrounds and interests. And Cultural Considerations in Chapter 9 highlights potential challenges across cultural norms. All are dealt with objectively and with examples that enhance understanding.
The text provides a wealth of background information, research and a strong scope of social software coverage so a reader will feel very well informed about networked learning environments and inspired to reconsider how that are used in distance education.