Competitive Social Learning (Competitive socio-constructivism)

A blog I started last year during Xmas, forgot to publish 😦

Over the Christmas holiday, while playing Xbox with my nephew and with my thesis at the back of my head, the concept of what I decided to call competitive social learning dawned on me.

Competitive social learning: creating, collaborating and communicating in groups, a community or in a network but with competition as a self-motivator. It is not to replace anything but to add to what we are already doing in social constructivism. Lets take a few social media currently being used: Flickr, it shows you how many times your photo(s) have been viewed or the number of times people have made it their favourite. Youtube, again the rating given by people who view your video, the comments left behind and the number of followers. Blogging, the number of hits your site is receiving and the number of people following you. Twitter, the number of posts you make, how many times has it been retweeted, the number of followers, the number of lists you appear in, and number of times it has been marked by someone as favourite.

The success to some of these tools, the uptake and retention can to some extend be credited to how good the platforms are at generating a competitive environment. Competitive social learning is using social media as a learning platform to nurture healthy competition using the ‘invisible’ competitive features already available. The same competitive concept can be used in LMS’s like Moodle, some great work has been done by Lewis Carr who has designed a Moodle meter (http://lewiscarr.co.uk/sites/default/files/moodle_meter.jpg) and a Moodle Dashboard (http://lewiscarr.co.uk/sites/default/files/moodle_dashboard.jpg) that promotes the invisible competitive capabilities.

A social media can be compared against a classroom, where the people using it are the students and social media itself is the classroom with no walls hence some of the challenges social media faces are the same as what a teacher would face in a classroom: retention and engagement. How does social media platforms manage to hold on to the users? Could one of the reasons be the “invisible” competitive nature of the systems that makes us come back to see what has transpired? No doubt the social connectivity and the potential that comes with it is a major draw card but is it as simple as that or is there more to it? Amongst all the reasons given for why games are so addictive, being challenged or competing against something or someone probably stands out or is well implemented. Could it be that a hybrid of competitiveness and social constructivism be a more effective approach?

A carefully controlled competitive environment could potentially be the best self-motivator and this could very easily be achieved on most social media. I have used the words ‘carefully control competitive environment’ because competition could also have a negative effect on students.

Knowing the vast hold video games have on the younger generation, could competitive social learning be the way forward. Competition is hardwired by the time kids reach high school (from playing games). It could be said that gamers and mostly the younger generation are well equipped to deal with and manage a virtual competitive environment. Could the transition from virtual to a real environment yield meaningful learning?

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