Hybridisation of Social Networking and Learning Environments
Over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in Online Social Networking, both in terms of the number of web sites that offer this service and the number of users of those sites. The benefits of co-operation and collaboration on the learning process have long been recognised and steps have been taken to introduce these aspects into Managed/Virtual Learning Environments. However, the social aspects of these environments are generally restricted to people with an official affiliation with the hosting organisation. This paper discusses the StudyNet MLE developed by the University of Hertfordshire and the drivers for integrating social networking aspects to the system and widening access beyond the traditional community. The paper concludes with the vision for the new, more social StudyNet and some general considerations for other M/VLEs.