So.cl: An Interest Network for Informal Learning

author: Shelly D. Farnham, Microsoft Research
published: July 6, 2012,   recorded: June 2012,   views: 2773
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Description

Web search engines emerged prior to the dominance of social media. What if we imagined search as integrating with social media from the ground up? So.cl is a web application that combines web browsing, search, and social networking for the purposes of sharing and learning around topics of interest. In this paper, we present the results of a deployment study examining existing learning practices around search and social networking for students, and how these practices shifted when participants adopted So.cl. We found prior to using So.cl that students already heavily employed search tools and social media for learning. With the use of So.cl, we found that users engaged in lightweight, fun social sharing and learning for informal, personal topics, but not for more heavyweight collaboration around school or work. The public nature of So.cl encouraged users to post search results as much for self-expression as for searching, enabling serendipitous discovery around interests.

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