Visualising Social Learning Ties by Type and Topic

BiekeOn 12 April, Bieke Schreurs presented a paper I had co-authored at the annual conference on learning analytics and knowledge, LAK13, which took place in Leuven, Belgium.

Schreurs, Bieke; Teplovs, Chris; Ferguson, Rebecca; De Laat, Maarten and Buckingham Shum, Simon (2013). Visualizing social learning ties by type and topic: rationale and concept demonstrator. In: Third Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK 2013), 8-12 April 2013, Leuven, Belgium.

Doug Clow liveblogged the presentation.

Paper abstract:

This paper builds on the ideas of Social Learning Analytics and focuses on the question of how people develop and maintain a ‘web’ of social relations that support their learning. We describe how we visualise learning ties in SocialLearn, an online learning space in use at the UK’s Open University. To gain more insight into the networked learning processes, we constructed a theoretical framework with the intention of identifying what counts as a learning tie by classifying the online interactions that promote the learning process. Based on this model we created a plug in, based on The Network Awareness Tool (NAT), to visualise learning ties within SocialLearn. NAT visualises socio-material networks by identifying relationships between people who interact with the same learning topics. The tool serves different goals for different target groups. It has been shown to provoke learning-centric reflection by learners on how they use their peers for learning. Learners can also use it as a Social Learning Browser to locate who are dealing with the same learning topics. Educators can use it to guide the students in their networked learning competences and to gain insight into the ability of groups of students to learn collectively over time. For researchers, the analysis of learning ties and networks helps clarifies how professionals engage in learning relationships and the value of this engagement. This work informs the field of learning analytics by identifying ways on making networked learning activities more explicit and therefore more accessible for professionals to share and analyse.

Photo by gr0uch0 on Flickr.


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  1. #1 by r3becca on February 14, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    Bieke has continued with this work: see ‘Social Learning Analytics applied in a MOOC-environment’ at

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