About the book

Online and Social Networking Communities: a Best Practice Guide for Educators is written by Karen Kear, and published by Routledge. It is part of The Open and Flexible Learning Series.

Online and Social Networking Communities is aimed at educators who want to use online communication to support learning and build community among learners.  The book discusses the benefits of learning in online communities, the communication tools that can be used, and the issues that arise.

Particular attention is paid to ‘web 2.0’ or ‘social software’ tools, and the role these technologies can play in supporting learning and building community. The book includes coverage of:

  • wikis
  • forums
  • blogging
  • instant messaging
  • Second Life
  • Twitter
  • desktop videoconferencing
  • social networking sites such as Facebook. 

The primary focus of the book is the practice of online learning and teaching, but this is grounded in a discussion of research in this area. The aim is to enable readers to develop an informed and critical approach to online collaborative learning, and to the communication tools that can support this. The book builds on many years of experience and practice at the UK Open University, which is a leader in online learning and online communication.

A feature of the book is the use of case studies. These are used to illustrate the ideas introduced in the main text, and to demonstrate how the ideas apply in a practical context. The case studies are drawn from the USA, China, Canada, Africa, Australia, Europe and the United Arab Emirates.