Ryerson Faculty Conference: Opening Keynote Notes

Teaching and Learning in Socio-technical Networks

Transition to new technology can be hard, but while it can be difficult to learn new technology, there are some positive sides e.g. story of his father getting immediate help when having a heart attack.


  • Examples including Windows becoming much less dominant, increase use of tablets and smartphones
  • Large Growth in eLearning and online learning
  • Student population has greatly changed. Over half of students are non-traditional students. Cannot treat all students the same.
  • Ed-tech startups shows the increase of venture capital into higher education sector.


Networks are everywhere. All you need is an eye for them. – Albert-László Barabási

  • To understand is to perceive patterns video
  • Snapp will do a network analysis. The question is what about the students who aren’t part of the network.
  • Power of social media, examples: VEG girl rating cafeteria food whose blog was shut down by school, Boston bombing reddit hunt identified wrong suspect – varied in impact, tend to be either very good or bad
  • Networks have changed over time to pursue interests instead of geographical area.
  • Power, identity, structural shift from . To /
  • Used to be the school as the hub, but now the school is a node
  • We are no longer in control of what students learn.
  • Need to account for a broader scope of learning


  • As goes info, so goes higher ed
  • If students can get the same information themselves, like watching lectures on youtube, why do they go to class? Why are we sitting in this room if this talk could have just been delivered over skype?
  • Conversations that are open, distributed, accessible, scalable, social, networked, self organized, iterative, adaptive, global, multimedia based
  • We have packaged knowledge for students, but that information is incomplete.
  • So students create socially create temporary centers e.g. Twitter hashtag; technologically create temporary centers: content and conversation aggregation e.g. google personalization
  • Participatory pedagogies: force students to put their thoughts into the curriculum
  • Knowledge is networked and distributed
  • The experience of learning is one of forming the neural, conceptual and external networks
  • Occurs in complex, chaotic, shifting spaces
  • Increasingly sided by technology
  • e.g. Got 3rd yr students to write python textbook in wiki for 1st yr student
  • Network opportunities and frictionless learning

Meeting complex challenges

Requires a deeper level of learning and different set of skills, especially with technology

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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