The objective of this study was to determine whether social software can be used to support Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) for the Net Generation of students in a higher education context. The use of social software combined with a CSCL environment is proposed as a tool that can improve teaching and learning endeavours around the world. In attempting to justify this proposal, a Participatory Action Research project was conducted at the University of Pretoria which involved conducting social software interventions over the course of three years, 2009 to 2011, on a 1st year under-graduate course run in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Three key themes were explored extensively, being the Net Generation, CSCL and Social Software. The study sought to find commonalities between these three concepts, as well as identifying existing research, which would make them influential in supporting collaborative learning endeavours for the Net Generation in higher education. The use of Social Software in higher education, as well as the use of Social Software for CSCL in higher education, was explored to determine whether, how and the extent to which Social Software is being used to support CSCL for the Net Generation in higher education. Most of the research done in this regard is limited to the actual social software tool(s) that is used, with little focus on providing input as to how Social Software can be used for CSCL for the Net Generation in higher education.
An existing CSCL Theoretical framework was used as a basis to develop an enhanced framework, called the Social Software Socio-Economic-Cultural-Technical (SECT) framework for CSCL. The SECT framework was developed incorporating relevant concepts from Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, Experiential Learning Theory, CSCL and Participatory Action Research, as well as the application of the relevant findings from each iteration of the project.
The positive results obtained from this study concerning the use of social software for CSCL and the subsequent social software SECT framework for CSCL, will enable lecturers to understand and design successful CSCL environments using social software for the Net Generation of students in higher education