Research

Work, Learning, and Social Interaction Online

My research explores the way interaction via computer media supports and affects work, learning, and social interaction. I examine how and what information is exchanged, knowledge is co-constructed, collaboration happens, and community forms in and in conjunction with online contexts. I am interested in the relational and media multiplexity that ties people in a collaborative, communal or learning relationship; I am interested in how organizing practices and media choices determine who talks to whom, establishing the latent tie structures on which relationships build; and I am interested in what motivates people to contribute to open, online projects. Recent work explores motivations for participation in online crowds and communities, the use of social media in teaching and learning, and social network patterns of interaction in support of learning. I am intent of reclaiming the term ‘e-learning’ to signify a transformative movement for learning in a networked world, entailing a transformation in who learns what, from whom, where, when, and under what circumstances.

My research falls under labels and perspectives of internet research, social networks, new media, online, networked and e-learning, social informatics and sociotechnical studies, and learning analytics. My work has and continues to address:

  • Computer-mediated communication (CMC): changes and differences in communicating via new media
  • E-learning and the transformative effects of online information resources, including other people (online learning, learning networks, networked learning, ubiquitous learning)
  • Social informatics, and the overlapping and co-evolutionary aspects of social and technical systems
  • Online social networks, including the formation, maintenance and relational structures associated with online interaction through crowds and communities
  • Online community, including community relations online, virtual community formation, and online/offline synergies for virtual and/or geographical communities
  • Distributed knowledge and knowledge construction across divides of geography, discipline, and understanding
  • Collaboration, including the relational bases of collaboration, and technology use in support of collaborative activity
  • Peer Production, from online community to crowdsourcing
  • Learning networks, research on the combination of social networks, online networks and learning
  • Learning analytics, harnessing the data traces from learning to gain better insight into learning processes in formal and informal settings, and understanding of learning trajectories and paths in formal education settings.
  • Social media and learning in the digital age, including patterns of social media adoption and use by teachers, transformative effects on teaching and learning practice, and social network patterns in large online learning settings such as MOOCs.