Innovate Teaching Social Software with Social Software. ‘Ulises Mejias examines how social software – information and communications technologies that facilitate the collaboration and exchange of ideas – enables students to participate in distributed research, an approach to learning in which knowledge is collectively constructed and shared. During Fall 2005, Mejias taught a graduate seminar that provided students with hands-on experience working with blogs, wikis, Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds and distributed classification systems.
The use of these social software tools allowed the class to function as a distributed research community where students were responsible for contributing something new to the study of the topic at hand. In this case social software was the topic of the seminar as well as its medium; in their course activities, students engaged in a critical analysis of the affordances of social software – what the software facilitates and what it prevents in different contexts – and were asked to apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge to promote a social cause of their choosing.’