Colleges Need to Build Digital Quads to Support Social Learning for Online Students

edsurge | October 05, 2019

Colleges Need to Build Digital Quads to Support Social Learning for Online Students
The act of talking with others—having social debates and conversations—is key to human learning, and this “social learning” has now become an important tenet of teaching and learning.Yet we tend to overlook how ingrained social learning is in our institutions, especially in higher education—how purposefully college campuses are designed to maximize the accidental run-ins and organic engagements. Campus quads, merged pathways, dormitories, libraries, cafeterias and learning spaces all bring students together to foster, as Chun-Mei Zhao observed, a “community focused on academic content, which allows [students] to further develop their identity and discover their voice as well as to integrate what they are learning into their worldview and other academic and social experiences.” If we can scale formal learning by taking it online, we can scale social learning there as well. This is particularly important today as more students are studying and learning online, and are increasingly disconnected from the physical spaces designed to spark social learning and interaction. As this trend continues, universities risk losing the community of informal, social learning that they were designed to foster. And that would deprive their students of a fundamental and important mode of learning and growth.

Spotlight

The potential for new technology in the classroom is really cool – and also kind of creepy. Here are five technologies that could dramatically change the way we learn.

Spotlight

The potential for new technology in the classroom is really cool – and also kind of creepy. Here are five technologies that could dramatically change the way we learn.

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