Making Sense of Digital Traces
Exploitation of Digital Traces for Informal Learning
The dramatic rise of social media leads to the development of a vast amount of user-generated content which is radically transforming today’s practice in many areas (e.g. policy making, disaster response, open government). Trends and predictions point out that social media will have a strong impact on learning in workplace, providing a huge resource of user-generated content for learning that may be unplanned and driven by circumstances – i.e. informal learning .
Social spaces can offer a plethora of digital traces of real world experiences: people write reviews about their experiences with staff or services (e.g. in hotels); share their personal stories (e.g. in blogs); leave comments pointing at situations they have experienced (e.g. when watching videos).
Taming Digital Traces
If selected carefully, these digital traces can give broad, authentic and up-to-date digital examples of activities, and can be a useful source for informal learning by adults who are self-regulated and shaped by experience, and are accustomed to social media and pervasiveness of technologies. Digital Traces can be particularly appealing as a source for informal learning of soft skills (e.g. communicating, planning, managing, advising, negotiating). Modern informal learning environments for soft skills can exploit user-generated content to provide learning situations linked to real world experience.
For instance, learners can browse through examples with different job situations, share personal stories, read stories or examples and comment on them, become aware of different perspectives, triggering self reflection and goal-setting for personal development.
To realise this vision, , novel architectures of social spaces are needed which use robust and cost-effective ways to retrieve, create, aggregate, organise, and exploit digital traces in social learning situations; in other words, to tame digital traces for informal learning . The work carried out in the context of the ImREAL project , utilises AMOn » ontologies and semantic services » for taming digital traces.
Recent advances in social semantic web can offer the technical underpinning for taming digital traces; allowing semantically augmented user generated content available via semantic data browsers. However, for learning environments, new intelligent techniques are needed to extend semantic data browsers with features that facilitate informal learning, yet preserving the exploratory nature of social environments.
We propose a novel approach for taming DTs in social spaces for in-formal learning by combining major advancements in semantic web with 'semantic nudges' in a semantic data browser - called I-CAW » .
Initial evaluation has shown the potential of these nudges in preserving the freedom for users to explore the social spaces and yet providing guidance to benefit from informal learning.
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