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Online social networks as formal learning environments: Learner experiences and activities

, , University of Texas at Austin

IRRODL Volume 13, Number 1, ISSN 1492-3831 Publisher: Athabasca University Press


While the potential of social networking sites to contribute to educational endeavors is highlighted by researchers and practitioners alike, empirical evidence on the use of such sites for formal online learning is scant. To fill this gap in the literature, we present a case study of learners’ perspectives and experiences in an online course taught using the Elgg online social network. Findings from this study indicate that learners enjoyed and appreciated both the social learning experience afforded by the online social network and supported one another in their learning, enhancing their own and other students’ experiences. Conversely, results also indicate that students limited their participation to course-related and graded activities, exhibiting little use of social networking and sharing. Additionally, learners needed support in managing the expanded amount of information available to them and devised strategies and “workarounds” to manage their time and participation.


Veletsianos, G. & Navarrete, C. (2012). Online social networks as formal learning environments: Learner experiences and activities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1), 144-166. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved March 21, 2019 from .


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