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ERIC Number: EJ946015
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 20
ISSN: ISSN-0313-7155
Informal Learning in Social Networks: A Study of the Orkut Social Network
Lisboa, Eliana Santana; Coutinho, Clara Pereira
Issues in Educational Research, v21 n2 p162-174 2011
This paper describes an analytical study which characterises the virtual communities of the Orkut social network, focusing in particular on education, training and technology, in order to understand whether this and other social websites allow the development of informal learning. This empirical study, which is descriptive and exploratory, began with the design and validation of a grid which was later used to analyse the content of a database of 75 communities from the Orkut virtual social network. The main objectives of this study were to characterise these virtual communities in order to know how the dynamics of interaction and knowledge sharing are processed in these virtual spaces, as well as to identify the tasks and the role of the e-moderator. The results show that there are substantial differences between moderated and public communities regarding themes, the types of language used and the forms of communication and collaboration employed. The e-moderator emerges as the key element in fostering virtual communities; however, it is noticeable that e-moderators are not fully aware of the importance of their role, often assuming a more administrative than pedagogical function. Regarding the main objective of this study--to discern whether these environments can be set up as informal spaces for learning--the answer is still inconclusive, although we have found strong evidence to suggest that these environments can be used in order to encourage the process of the in-service training of teachers, which relies on collaboration and sharing knowledge about subjects. (Contains 5 tables.)
Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Inc. 5/202 Coode Street, Como, Western Australia 6152, Australia. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A