This paper focuses on evaluating a socio-cultural activity design (SCAD) model for using discussion-based social networking tools as a means to support the development of an online community of learners. Participants included 38 undergraduate students enrolled in a human-centered design course at a large, US university. The SCAD model includes concrete markers for identifying expected interactional, communication patterns for a community of learners. In order to examine the utility of our model we asked, (RQ1) to what extent do social network patterns coincide with expected outcomes for a community of learners; (RQ2) To what extent do students’ cognitive activities in the environment match expected outcomes for a community of learners. To answer these questions, we conducted social network and content analysis of 503 posts in an online discussion-based social networking tool. We examined the overall sophistication of posts as well as changes in posting behavior over time. Findings suggest that use of the SCAD model facilitated processes associated with a community of learners, as students took over responsibility for the discussions over time, maintained strong connections with multiple peers, engaged in meaningful conversations about course content, and increased the sophistication of cognitive activity over time, even after instructor faded from the environment. However, findings also suggest more support is needed for online argumentation practices.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Agre, P. E. (1995). Computational research on interaction and agency. Artificial Intelligence,72(1–2), 1–52.
Agre, P. E. (2004). The practical republic: Social skills and the progress of citizenship. In A. Feenberg & D. Barney (Eds.), Community in the digital age: Philosophy and practice (pp. 201–223). New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of Economic Perspectives,31(2), 211–236.
Arquero, J. L., & Romero-Frías, E. (2013). Using social network sites in higher education: An experience in business studies. Innovations in Education and Teaching International,50(3), 238–249.
Baker, M. J. (1999). Argumentation and constructive interaction. In G. Rijlaarsdam, E. Espéret, P. Coirier, & J. Andriessen (Eds.), Studies in writing: Vol 5. Foundations of argumentative text processing (pp. 179–202). Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.
Baker, M. J. (2003). Computer-mediated argumentative interactions for the co-elaboration of scientific notions. In J. Andriessen, M. J. Baker, & D. Suthers (Eds.), Arguing to learn: Confronting cognitions in computer-supported collaborative learning environments (pp. 47–78). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Barak, M., & Rafaeli, S. (2004). On-line question-posing and peer-assessment as means for web-based knowledge sharing in learning. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies,61(1), 84–103.
Bielaczyc, K., & Collins, A. (1999). Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice (Vol. 2, pp. 269–292). New York, NY: Routledge.
Borge, M., & Carroll, J. (2010). Using collaborative activity as a means to explore student performance and understanding. In Proceedings of the 9th international conference of the learning sciences (Vol. 1, pp. 889–896).
Borge, M., & Goggins, S. (2014). Towards the facilitation of an online community of learners: Assessing the quality of interactions in Yammer. In Proceedings of the international conference of the learning sciences (Vol. 14, pp. 753–761).
Borge, M., Ganoe, C., Shih, S., and Carroll, J. (2012). Patterns of team processes and breakdowns in information analysis tasks. In Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on computer supported cooperative work (pp. 1105–1114). New York, NY, ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2145204.2145369 http://doi.org/10.1145/2145204.2145369
Borge, M., Ong, Y. S., & Rosé, C. (2018). Learning to monitor and regulate collective thinking processes. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning,13(1), 61–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11412-018-9270-5.
Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,2(2), 141–178.
Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1996). Psychological theory and the design of innovative learning environments: On procedures, principles, and systems. In L. Schauble & R. Glaser (Eds.), Innovations in learning: New environments for education (pp. 289–325). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Carroll, J. M., Jiang, H., & Borge, M. (2015). Distributed collaborative homework activities in a problem-based usability engineering course. Education and Information Technologies,30(3), 589–617.
Collins, A. (1992). Toward a design science of education. In E. Scanlon & T. O’Shea (Eds.), New directions in educational technology (pp. 15–22). New York: Springer.
Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design research: Theoretical and methodological issues. Journal of the Learning Sciences,13(1), 15–42.
Convertino, G., Mentis, H. M., Rosson, M., Slavkovic, A., & Carroll, J. M. (2009). Supporting content and process common ground in computer-supported teamwork. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI 2002) (pp. 2339–2348). New York, NY: ACM Press.
Del Vicario, M., Vivaldo, G., Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., et al. (2016). Echo chambers: Emotional contagion and group polarization on Facebook. Scientific Reports,6, 37825.
Duschl, R. A., & Osborne, J. (2002). Supporting and promoting argumentation discourse in science education. Studies in Science Education,38, 39–72.
Dyke, G., Adamson, D., Howley, I., & Rose, C. P. (2013). Enhancing scientific reasoning and discussion with conversational agents. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies,6, 240–247.
Ebert-May, D., Derting, T. L., Hodder, J., Momsen, J. L., Long, T. M., & Jardeleza, S. E. (2011). What we say is not what we do: Effective evaluation of faculty professional development programs. BioScience,61(7), 550–558.
Ebner, M., Holzinger, A., & Maurer, H. (2007). Web 2.0 technology: Future interfaces for technology enhanced learning? In C. Stephanidis (Ed.), Universal access to applications and services (pp. 559–568)., Lecture notes in computer science Heidelberg: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-73283-9_62.
Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly,44(2), 350–383.
Engerström, Y. (2000). Activity theory as a framework for analyzing and redesigning work. Ergonomics,43(7), 960–974.
Engle, R. A., & Conant, F. R. (2002). Guiding principles for fostering productive disciplinary engagement: Explaining an emergent argument in a community of learners classroom. Cognition and Instruction,20(4), 399–483.
Freeman, L. C. (2004). The development of social network analysis. Vancouver, BC: Empirical Press.
Goggins, S. P., & Dyke, G. (2013). Network analytic techniques for online chat. In D. D. Suthers, K. Lund, C. P. Rosé, G. Dyke, & N. Law (Eds.), Productive multivocality in the analysis of group interactions (pp. 541–559). New York: Springer.
Goggins, S. P., Mascaro, C., & Valetto, G. (2013). Group informatics: A methodological approach and ontology for sociotechnical group research. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology,64(3), 516–539.
Goggins, S., & Petakovic, E. (2014). Connecting theory to social technology platforms a framework for measuring influence in context. American Behavioral Scientist. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764214527093.
Graham, M. (2014). Social media as a tool for increased student participation and engagement outside the classroom in higher education. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice,2(3), 16–24.
Hiebert, J., Carpenter, T. P., Fennema, E., Fuson, K., Human, P., Murray, H., et al. (1996). Problem solving as a basis for reform in curriculum and instruction: The case of mathematics. Educational researcher,25(4), 12–21.
Jonassen, D. H., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development,47(1), 61–79.
Joyce, B., & Weil, M. (2005). Models of teaching (5th ed.). New Dehli: Prentice Hall.
Kalen, M., Churcher, K., Downs, E., & Tewksbury, D. (2014). “Friending” Vygotsky: A social constructivist pedagogy of knowledge building through classroom social media use. Journal of Effective Teaching,14(1), 33–50.
Kane, R., Sandretto, S., & Heath, C. (2002). Telling half the story: A critical review of research on the teaching beliefs and practices of university academics. Review of Educational Research,72(2), 177–228.
Kanuka, H., & Garrison, R. D. (2004). Cognitive presence in online learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education,15(2), 21–39.
Kirschner, P. A. (2015). Facebook as learning platform: Argumentation superhighway or dead-end street? Computers in Human Behavior,53, 621–625.
Landis, J. R., & Koch, G. G. (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics,33(1), 159–174.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lazer, D. M., Baum, M. A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A. J., Greenhill, K. M., Menczer, F., et al. (2018). The science of fake news. Science,359(6380), 1094–1096.
Leonardi, P. M., Huysman, M., & Steinfield, C. (2013). Enterprise social media: Definition, history, and prospects for the study of social technologies in organizations. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,19(1), 1–19.
Liu, M., McKelroy, E., Kang, J., Harron, J., & Liu, S. (2016). Examining the use of Facebook and Twitter as an additional social space in a MOOC. American Journal of Distance Education,30(1), 14–26.
McDonald, N., Blincoe, K., Petakovic, E., & Goggins, S. (2014). Modeling distributed collaboration on GitHub. Advances in Complex Systems. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0219525914500246.
Murray, K., & MacDonald, R. (1997). The disjunction between lecturers’ conceptions of teaching and their claimed educational practice. Higher Education,33(3), 331–349.
Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books.
Noroozi, O., Weinberger, A., Biemans, H. J., Mulder, M., & Chizari, M. (2013). Facilitating argumentative knowledge construction through a transactive discussion script in CSCL. Computers & Education,61, 59–76.
Papert, S. (1993). The children’s machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Pirolli, P., & Card, S. (2005). The sensemaking process and leverage points for analyst technology as identified through cognitive task analysis. In Proceedings of international conference on intelligence analysis (Vol. 5, pp. 2–4).
Preece, J., Rogers, Y., & Sharp, H. (2015). Interaction design: beyond human–computer interaction. New York: Wiley.
Reiser, B. J. (2004). Scaffolding complex learning: The mechanisms of structuring and problematizing student work. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,13(3), 273–304.
Rogoff, B. (1994). Developing understanding of the idea of communities of learners. Mind, Culture, and Activity,1(4), 209–229.
Rosson, M. B., & Carroll, J. M. (2002). Usability Engineering: Scenario-based development of Human–Computer Interaction. Hillsdale, NJ: Morgan Kaufmann.
Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1991). Higher levels of agency for children in knowledge building: A challenge for the design of new knowledge media. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,1(1), 37–68.
Stahl, G. (2006). Group cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Sunstein, C. R. (2018). # Republic: Divided democracy in the age of social media. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual)—A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior,29(5), A60–A68.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Weinberger, A., Stegmann, K., Fischer, F., & Mandl, H. (2007). Scripting argumentative knowledge construction in computer-supported learning environments. In F. Fischer, I. Kollar, H. Mandl, & J. M. Haake (Eds.), Scripting computer-supported collaborative learning Cognitive, Computational and Educational Perspectives (pp. 191–211). New York: Springer.
We would like to thank our undergraduate research assistants, Anthony Sanchez and Shawn Thompson, for their contributions to this project. We would also like to thank the participating students for allowing us to examine their interactions and for giving us constructive, thoughtful feedback on the activities. This research was supported by The National Science Foundation (IIS-1319445), awarded to Marcela Borge and Carolyn Rosé. This paper builds on a shorter conference paper, published by the International Society of the Learning Sciences: (Borge and Goggins 2014) https://repository.isls.org/bitstream/1/1190/1/753-760.pdf. We thank the society for giving us permission to reuse these materials.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Borge, M., Ong, Y.S. & Goggins, S. A sociocultural approach to using social networking sites as learning tools. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 1089–1120 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09721-z
- Communities of learners
- Learning with social media
- Social network analysis
- Higher education
- Computer science education