Open Access

Use of Questions to Facilitate Social Learning in a Web 2.0 Environment

RUSC, Universities and Knowledge Society Journal20118:8010316

DOI: 10.7238/rusc.v8i1.993

Received: 15 July 2010

Accepted: 15 November 2010

Published: 15 January 2011


Online social learning involves distributed learners interacting through the use of Web 2.0. In many cases, Web 2.0 interactions are limited to information exchange and do not provoke knowledge construction. Studies of concept mapping suggest that engaging with social learning via a question could encourage meaningful interaction, although this would be likely to depend upon affective conditions and the effort involved in asking and responding to these questions. In order to investigate this, the interactions of 1,229 participants on a social learning site were studied over an 11-week period. Data were also collected from a questionnaire distributed to all participants, and from feedback contributed during the project. These were analysed thematically to investigate the ways in which questions can be used to facilitate learning in a Web 2.0 environment. Analysis showed that participants were interested in broad topic areas, themes and issues rather than specific questions about these areas. They did not treat questions related to learning about the community and the website in the same way as questions related to learning about subject areas and content. The social use of questions online was identified as supporting meaningful learning interaction in nine ways.


computer-mediated communication pedagogical issues social learning online learning questions