Illustrating the Sweet Spot

I’ve probably used the term social learning more than just about anyone I know in the past 3 years. Many believe that all learning is social. While I don’t if I completely buy that theory, I do believe that our schools in general have downplayed the value of learning with one another both in physical classrooms and in “third places“.

As schools begin to recognize the potential of social media or networking as potential learning spaces it might be important to distinguish and identify things a bit more succinctly. I know David Jakes has stated he does not like the term social networking as it suggests social, but doesn’t speak specifically to learning. I agree. The term gets tossed around and means something quite different depending on individual interpretation.

I’ve build a mockup of a diagram I’d like to use to illustrate the merging and blending of social networking and individual interaction with content. This can be either online or offline but primarily I’m thinking about online spaces. Here’s my first draft.


It needs some work both from a design standpoint as well as the message and content.  The social networking aspect is pretty clear. We all have spaces where we are focused primarily on the social. Students in particular use facebook as a primary space to socialize. It’s not seen, nor should it necessarily be seen as a learning or academic space. That’s fine. On the other hand those that see the web or school library or classroom as containers of knowledge and information often aren’t interesting in the social component and interaction that supports learning. The area in blue represents learning and content that is consumed in isolation, reading a book, watching a video, writing a journal or article by yourself. I don’t think the term “academic content” really gets at what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to show that there is a sweet spot in between that can exist and should be fostered in schools. Any suggestions for improving this diagram would be welcomed.

This image also supports the concept but I wanted something a bit more explicit but this is the concept.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dkuropatwa