This project aims to bring some of the affordances of consumer social networks to teaching and learning, and will deliver applications within CamTools, our Sakai-based VLE. This is an informal blog by the project team at CARET, University of Cambridge.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Data gathering and data analysis

Wow! It's been a busy time for the Social Networking team, with the first phase of data gathering and analysis now complete. Tjhien, Anne-Sophie and I began by researching undergraduates, looking at the role that other people around them can play in their learning, and in particular identifying the points at which they feel other people could potentially help them, but for some reason currently are unable to. After a diary study and interviews with 8 students carefully chosen to reflect the spread of people at the University, we feel we have a much deeper understanding of their needs. There have of course been some surprises, and so points at which this research appears to be conflicting with previous research projects carried out here in CARET. In particular, we're feeling intrigued by students' use of Facebook: a previous project had concluded that self-representation and self-fashioning played a huge role of students' Facebook use, whereas this current research suggests that Facebook is seen by our students largely as an events management and communication system.

Meanwhile, we seem to have used up almost every post-it note in the office during the analysis phase - with the expert help of consultancy Flow Interactive, we seem to have developed a very post-it note intensive process!

Over the next couple of months, we'll be moving into phases II and III of our research , working with post-grads and senior academics. Once again, we'll be looking at the role that the people around them play in their learning, and the role that they feel they can and should play in helping others learn.

Monday, 8 December 2008

from the CARET library

A brief introduction to our project from Harriet Truscott.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Flowing along...

This week, the academic networking team is really busy, as we are conducting our first round of user research with help from Flow Interactive, specialist consultants in user research and user-centric design. Although CARET has a lot of expertise in these areas, it's great to see how industrial product design in this area is delivered following best practice, and Flow are both helping us out with this project, and training us at the same time.

We are really enjoying hosting Flow (and all our lovely student volunteers!) at CARET, and look forward to analysing the results of our work next week.

Monday, 24 November 2008


Welcome to our project about social networking in higher education.

Dr. Laura James will be managing this project at CARET, with a great team of Harriet Truscott, Anne-Sophie de Baets, Nicolaas Matthijs, Tjhien Liao, and others working on user-centric design and development.